Reviewer Harry Fletcher-Wood shares his top picks from the education blogosphere.
Just another lesson
By Mark Enser
Mark Enser has posted some excellent blogs recently, but I particularly appreciated this one. He wants to see more blogs “by teachers discussing their lessons. Picking them apart and explaining their thinking. Showing how they put the pedagogy they espouse into practice.” He focuses the structure of and students’ reaction to a “landscape unit”, with goals that include describing “how landscapes vary across the British Isles”.
Surprised by how much students enjoyed the lesson, Enser concludes: “There is something inherently enjoyable about looking at our landscape and understanding the processes that created it”.
Reflecting on teaching boys, Quirky Teacher describes a discussion that emerged with a class in which she “got the opportunity to tell those boys that the more awesome and hard-working they were at work, the bigger and better the wheelie chair they got . . . and they bloody loved it!” She argues that, in inspiring boys, we need to tell them about the real world and the “possibilities within it for all boys, regardless of race, background or means, to shine and have a nice shiny car or even a chair with wheels. We also need to let them compete in order to become better mathematicians.”
United we stand, divided we fall
By Dawn Cox
Having seen that success in schools can come down to staff unity, “not necessarily how the school does things but that there is unity across staff and students in the application of the strategies/rules”, Dawn Cox wonders “why don’t all schools just ensure consistency?” She considers a range of factors, from teachers who don’t like being told what to do, to senior leaders who feel ill-equipped to challenge staff and the barriers created by friendships and relationships.
Her thorough post provides a helpful checklist for anyone seeking to achieve consistency in school policies: “schools that nail consistency have the highest chance of being successful. It’s the challenge of leadership of how to do this with humanity and professionalism.”
We need to talk about misconceptions
By Adam Boxer
Adam Boxer begins with a simple question: does creating cognitive conflict – in which students are presented with challenges to their current conceptions – “secure better understanding of correct conceptions?”
He suspected this was unlikely to work, since the history of science demonstrates that old theories are overturned “only once the weight of contradicting evidence became overwhelming”. Expecting “to be drowned in a sea of high quality, robust studies with quantitative findings”, he was disappointed. He explores these studies and builds on them to distinguish between primary misconceptions that people “naturally acquire” and secondary ones, which “they acquire after learning something about the world.”
Boxer takes an impartial and thoughtful approach to his quest, offering a clear summary of his findings and suggestions as to how they can be built upon; this is an instructive read and a model for teacher’s use of research.
Why evidence-based practice probably isn’t worth it…
By David Wilkinson
David Wilkinson has identified a big problem facing evidence-based practice outside health and aviation: people don’t want it. “That doesn’t mean they are not interesting in research but they are just not that interested in using the research to change how they do things. Period.” Using some carefully-selected Google trends graphs, he shows that “people want to know how to do things . . . practical things”.
He argues that the most rigorous research depends on day-to-day experiences and anecdotes, arguing that we should “STOP selling evidence-based practice”. Instead we should “tell stories, capture interest,stop being stuck up about systematic reviews, this method or that method. That’s for later . . .”