Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Best Of What We Know...

At any moment in time, that should be our aim.

For too long in education we have accepted 'peddled quackery' and 'snake oil'. Teachers have been mis-sold pseudo-science by companies trying to make an easy buck or SLT looking for a 'silver bullet', found printed on a glossy leaflet.

Thank goodness for people like Dan Willingham, Tom Bennett and the ResearchEd crowd plus the collective power of blogs, Twitter and TeachMeets. We've started to get somewhere far closer to the best of what we know by working collectively and venturing into studies that previously had been ignored by those in education.

This knowledge of how children learn and remember needs to be at the fingertips of all teachers. Thankfully it now can be... A 10 page PDF (with just 6 pages that *really* matter) outlines the best of what we know concisely and in a practical way:

For those already aware of the world of cognitive psychology, there may not be much new here. However the practical explanations are incredibly useful. It also includes an extensive bibliography to take understanding to the next level.

Huge thank you goes to Deans for Impact for this. Some people would try and charge hundreds of pounds to 'sell' these ideas. Thankfully this is being shared freely to help us all become better teachers. It focuses on 6 key questions:

1. How do students understand new ideas?
2. How do students learn and retain new information?
3. How do students solve problems?
4. How does learning transfer to new situations?
5. What motivates students to learn?
6. What are some common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

They used an  brilliant analogy of Messi (Americans talking about soccer!), arguably the world's greatest footballer, when launching this publication:

Lionel Messi is generally considered to be the best professional soccer player in the world, capable of delivering deft passes and jaw-dropping strikes on goal at the highest level of international competition. But does he understand the physics of how soccer balls travel? Perhaps, but color me skeptical. My guess is he’s developed his skills in blissful ignorance of the underlying physical laws that control the movement of the ball.

Perhaps the same holds true for educators – perhaps teachers need not understand the science of learning to be effective. Perhaps teachers, like Lionel Messi, can acquire all the skills they need through deliberate practice without understanding the underlying theory of learning implicit in their actions.   <source>

I agree with David Didau (see <here>), this should be shared with every teacher in the UK. It should also be embedded in all routes of ITT. It should be a key part of CPD. It should not be dismissed as 'something we already do anyway' (do you? do you really?). We really need to share the best of what we know.

How about you starting with those that you know or work with?

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