Why educational theory is flawed

Filling the pail

The TES has published an interesting piece by Janet Orchard that argues in favour of teachers learning educational theory. I actually think that educational theory is incredibly important and awareness of it among teachers is low. I also agree with this statement by Orchard:

“Teachers need to be able to plan successful lessons independently, and distinguish clear and legitimate aims from unclear and questionable ones. Teachers need to be able to communicate what they are doing clearly and coherently to parents and other stakeholders, justifying their professional judgements with legitimate and contextually relevant reasons.”

My concern is that a better knowledge of educational theory will not help teachers do this. It does not generally have this kind of practical value. Although very interesting, and perhaps essential to understanding the great debate in education, I tend to agree with Carl Hendrick’s assessment on Twitter that educational theory, “has little or no…

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…Critical Incidents

Critical incidents facilitate the analysis and evaluation of professional experience.  Variations of the approach have been used and applied in different contexts for over eight decades.  For example, critical incident analysis has helped to develop and refine aircraft controls, based on the experiences of WWII pilots.  It has supported the professional development of paramedics, enabling them to objectively scrutinize the life or death decisions required of them.  And, as the following post explores, has successfully helped school teachers to make sense of the complexities of learning and teaching in their classrooms.

Originally published on danieljayres.blogspot.co.uk, this post draws together the key ideas behind David Tripp’s discussion of critical incident analysis…  Continue reading …Critical Incidents

The Hidden Lives of Learners

Class Teaching

nuthallbookTonight’s 15 Minute Forum was led by our Director of Humanities, Martyn Simmonds.  Martyn was discussing this great book.  He picked out some of the key themes from the book, and then shared how this could help to shape our teaching.

nuthall quote

Learning is individual

  • Learning involves making connections between new information and prior knowledge.
  • Students know about 40-50% of what we are going to teach them….
  • … BUT the prior knowledge differs between students, so it will be highly variable.
  • Students with different background knowledge, will experience the activity differently and therefore learn different things.
  • One third of what students learn in a lesson is unique to them – and won’t be learnt by others.

Learning usually involves a progressive change

  • Single, isolated experiences do not give birth to learning – learning is not a one-off event, it happens over time.
  • Learning is shaped by a sequence of events –…

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Education, not ‘attainment’.

How do we know?

I clearly remember two separate, but similar introductions to the new year from teachers at my junior school, though the identity of the teachers has now faded from my memory. On both occasions, something was written in chalk, on the board and obviously with enough dramatic impact for me to recall for 40 years. One of these was the literal translation of the word ‘educare’ as ‘to lead/draw out’ and the other was the old catechism ‘wissen ist macht’ translated as ‘knowledge is power’ but conveyed to us as our knowledge would give us power (to think for ourselves, to make informed decisions, to resist negative pressure). I’m reminded of these when I am witness to educational debates and particularly those that focus on the purpose of education. Of course, like so many of us, I must be strongly influenced by my early experience, which in this case leads me…

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How to be Invisible

Homeless Talent Show Thinks

I am the father of that family that is irresponsible because there are six of us.

I am the father of that family that is “not really” poor because we own a refrigerator, video game systems, and cellular phones; Cable TV and internet.

My family does not receive state or federal assistance…yet. My wife and I both work 40-hour per week schedules but we rarely make 40-hours worked in a week because I attend school and we attend to our children’s needs. Add family obligations that must be undertaken and my wife and I scramble to maintain both ours and our children’s health and well-being. Our love is strong and fierce but poverty rolls its eyes at love.

This isn’t a plea for help. I write this because we are invisible.

It is simple, really, we consume more than we can afford. With this understood, I write this to show how easy it is to be invisible…not to lament.

I write this…

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