In this post, a maths teacher reflects on the feedback from a survey in her school and, in particular, discusses how concerned she should be about students who find maths to be boring. She considers some of the issues around how one might make maths interesting, and questions whether learning should, at times, be boring. She decides that while showing enthusiasm is important, the teacher’s concern should be with effective teaching and learning, and that this involves students doing plenty of practice.
In a tale of bad management, a teacher describes how little support from her managers she has received with a disruptive pupil. She reveals her frustration at having the student returned to her class against her wishes, and explains how she feels that she is being blamed for the situation. “It seems very much to me like the solution that the deputy wants is to kowtow to the student because it’s easier and therefore she is condoning that poor behaviour.”
Following on from the DfE’s plan to give awards for “character education”, a psychology teacher writes about the debate over the importance of personality traits and whether they can be taught or assessed. He finds a number of problems with some popular ideas. He compares the study of character to astrology and doubts claims about the effect of measured or taught personality traits on students’ outcomes. He is also sceptical about suggestions that personality traits can be used to explain the effect of social class on academic performance.
In this post, an educationist argues that there are potentially iniquitous effects in allowing students to drop academic subjects at a young age. He argues that, for many and particularly for the disadvantaged, school is a unique opportunity to learn knowledge that lasts for a lifetime. “Perhaps with the exception of children with severe special needs, I can think of no child – whatever his or her social background, parental wealth or intelligence – for whom academic subjects are not appropriate.”
In this post, a maths teacher describes how spending time playing the piano at her parents’ home over Christmas has made her realise a number of things about learning. She reflects that confidence is often hard to judge from the outside; that skills can often be broken down into smaller parts, and that it’s important to know what you are trying to achieve. She also discusses motivation and concludes that noticeably improving in what one can do is more motivating than any gimmick.
This blogpost provides advice about starting an education organisation. It warns against a number of potential pitfalls, such as relying too much on volunteers or focusing too much on London. While much of it is uplifting, it’s also very realistic. For instance, it gives the following warning: “Please don’t launch ‘another’ project designed to inspire kids. Have you met a kid? They’re full of inspiration!” The message is one of remaining ambitious and motivated while not over-reaching or taking unnecessary risks.