Review by Jill Berry

10 Dec 2017, 5:00

Jill Berry’s top blogs of the week 4 December 2017

Blog reviewer Jill Berry shares her top edu-blogs of the week


Fostering respect for diversity in a climate of fear and misunderstanding: the case for a religious education

My first choice this week is a post from Alice McNeill, head of Partnerships at Bedales School, which appeared on the ISC blog a couple of months ago but has only come to my attention recently. It presents a powerful argument for the value of Religious Studies in the present climate.

Alice discusses the importance of “religious literacy” and her concerns that subjects outside the EBacc increasingly have to fight for their place within the curriculum. As she says, the subject focuses on “our shared humanity” and celebrates diversity. In the face of current challenges “there is a stronger case than ever for making space for religion within the curriculum in order to avoid a rootless youth, a decontextualized value system and fertile ground for extremist religious mentalities”.



As we limp towards the end of the longest and arguably the toughest of the three school terms, many teachers will be relishing the opportunity the holidays present to catch up on their sleep. In this post, Jamie Thom discusses the importance of regular and healthy sleep habits, and the danger of failing to get sufficient rest.

He speaks from experience: “I know what a profoundly depressing and difficult thing it is to survive on very little sleep, and how it can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety and poor functioning.” He goes on to offer some specific, practical advice as to how we can ensure we get sufficient sleep, including interesting and useful references and suggestions for further reading.


Life inside the bubble

In addition to his day job as a head of geography, Mark Enser is a prolific writer on a range of educational subjects. This is the second part of his consideration on how well-informed and forward-looking teachers are, as he debates whether individual professionals, and indeed whole schools, are inside or outside “the bubble”. Those who are within connect with, learn from and support the learning of other educators, which is in Mark’s view essential if you are to be a confident and well-informed leader.

He asks whether some schools are genuinely committed to improvement, while others are content simply to create the impression that they are. When I tweeted the link to this post, it clearly struck a chord because of the number of retweets and comments it generated. You may agree or disagree, but I suggest it will make you think.


Effective debate in edchats

Blake Harvard, a US educator, explores the issue of edchats on Twitter, and what he considers to be acceptable and unacceptable online behaviour. He reflects on his own experience of using Twitter and blogging, and discusses some of the differences between the ways online chats tend to operate in US and UK.

Blake welcomes healthy and polite dissent, but suggests that if we are to derive the greatest benefit from online debate with fellow educators, we should perhaps follow certain guidelines. He concludes: “Remain polite – no matter what, be polite. There’s no reason to insult another edchat participant. Remember, these are teachers who are using their own time to try and better themselves.” He suggests that if we follow some simple guidelines we are far more likely to succeed in our goal of “thinking, learning, growing”.


What kind of feedback moves students on?

My final choice this week comes from my fellow Schools Week blog reviewer, Harry Fletcher-Wood, who deals comprehensively here with the subject of feedback, and what kind successfully moves student learning on. Harry concedes that “feedback is hard to get right”, but claims that “if we are intentional about the level of change we are targeting, and make links between one level and the next, it is far more likely to be effective”.

Wise words and useful advice, Harry.

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