If we know so much, why is nothing changing?

September 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve just read Guy Claxton’s “What’s the point of school?” which is excellent, and yet another roundup of all the concepts that have been repeatedly hitting me this summer, quoting many of the same studies and authors as other books I’ve read such as Daniel Pink’s “Drive”, Carole Dweck’s “Mindset”, etc. and they all espouse this wonderful vision of schooling where we stop measuring, testing, and free kids to be creative. All these ideas are strongly founded in proper neuroscience (and not the pseudo-versions that many so-called educationalists use), and are filled with evidence to reject many traditional approaches which is all rather compelling.

Trouble is, nobody seems to remember that when kids leave education then many will want jobs, and employers want to find out how good an employee they will be without having to measure it themselves… hence exams! I’m sure there is a way of allowing creativity, play, freedom to learn, etc. while retaining these exam systems, but gradually attempting to examine more important thing.

There’s no wonder schools and governments refuse to change. Employers, managers and governments all want to be able to measure the effectiveness of their education systems. Educationalists who insist on reducing measurement will be ignored and sidelined. Could we  educate government, the public, and the media, just as much as we need to re-educate schools in how to educate?


Fixed mind sets

September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Carol Dweck claims that teachers commonly induce a fixed mindset within students that causes them to believe that they cannot become any smarter than they are, and that it is not worth the effort to try to do so.

She goes on to state that by re-training children that the brain is like a muscle then it can transform their approach to education, and that you can change them in to much more reflective, persevering, engaged students.

It’s a delicious thought, and it seems remarkably easy (albeit expensive if you sign up to her Brainology course) so I am definitely going to try it with my Year 9 Maths set, one of whom recently told me “Sir, you say we can be the best in school, but we’re set 4. If you want to teach the best, go and teach set 1”.

Watch this space – can it work?

What can great management practice tell us about teaching?

August 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

I have spent my summer reading management books, such as Good to GreatLinchpinsMultipliers, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here’s a selection of their recommendations:

  1. Lead with questions, let others come to the important conclusions first, and give your own wisdom sparingly.
  2. Have a core belief, and a key aim, and inspire your team with a lofty goal and high expectations
  3. Create a team that can fix problems and improve itself without you.
  4. Encourage your team to be creative and improve itself, to try new things all the time, relish mistakes as opportunities to learn and encourage people to take risks.

I don’t really believe that a teacher does all of these things. We impose our rules and our logic for using them. We value correctness and punish errors. Our system tells them to acheive their target grade in order to pass the exam (hardly inspiring stuff). We make our students rely on our own marking and on our help, and we tell them how we want them to learn.

Is there a better way?