Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Accessible Psychology? [KS3]

Image courtesy of A Dad First

Neil Gilbride was arguing on Twitter that the oversimplification of meta-cognition and cognitive psychology could end up as more pseudoscience (cf VAK, Brain Gym etc) - see tweets <here>. He cited a few bloggers who have, by and large, introduced me to these ideas. I admit that they are my main point of reference and I have been very grateful to these people to get me thinking more about my classroom practice and pedagogy. I do see them as an introduction and I want to read and learn more. Sadly, as with many of these things, time really has not allowed it.

Neil argued that teachers should, at the minimum be reading A-Level / Undergrad psychology to fully understand the ideas promoted in the blogs. He recommended the following, which I intend to check out:
It was very odd timing as I was literally in the process of putting together a resource to help my KS3 classes revise. How could I simplify some very complex ideas to a level suitable for 11 year old girls?

I have already done some work with KS4 and KS5 classes, and shared this information publicly <here> and at TM London <here>. As Head of Year, I set some work on it for our PHSE/Study Skills unit, however I made a crucial mistake. Staff were not fully on board as I simply provided the resources without my full rational and explanation (apart from "I think this is really good") and without them necessarily 'buying in'. It is something I need to revisit with my Y10 year group. However I actually spent a whole lesson with my Y11 GCSE RE classes doing the Learning Review I produced (See <here>) and then pointing out key things in my A5 booklet  (See <here>). Some comments were:
  • "This is the best revision session I've ever had."
  • "Why did no one tell us this before?"
  • "I have been wasting so much time."
I decided to try and put the booklet into 15 'easy to read' Tips for KS3; they have their end of year exams coming up. This was hard and impossible to avoid some technical language like memory retrieval and working memory which will need brief explanations. I also wanted to keep the language light, and appealing. However as a result, I do feel it is a little too informal (and bad English?) for a serious resource.

As always, I am very keen for feedback, especially from those who know a lot more about this than me.

Download 15 Revision Tips for KS3 <here> or share


  1. Looks pretty good to me. Could you do anything to reorder the list? At the moment you have warnings and instructions all mixed together.

    Would it help do you think to reorder it so that it becomes information up front, then instructions, then what not to do?

    Or, as some consultancies would have it, what to do up front, reasons why second, then what not to do last.

    1. I am working on this now Kris - although admittedly Y10 marks have taken precedent. Work in progress and thanks for taking the time to provide some useful feedback. It's been fascinating to watch my KS3 students revising in different ways. Y9 have attempted concept maps (more guidance needed there) but a lot of quizzing.

  2. Irony in this is that Willingham did write an undergraduate psychology textbook, but guess what? It didn't contradict anything he wrote elsewhere. The assumption that any blogger who quotes "Why Students Don't Like School" has read no other psychology is one that really annoys me. As does the idea that we haven't previously discussed the ideas with people with psychology degrees and need to be rescued by people whose own theories are far from mainstream. If Willingham was wrong, people should demonstrate it and stop the insults.

    1. Is this a criticism of Neil, of the blog post, or of what I am trying to do with KS3? AS you should know, I am a keen advocate of Willingham. I do admit my knowledge of psychology is limited, but it is an area for me to continue learning about, in part, due to those continuing to blog.