What are we waiting for?

When I was teaching in the UK, my life was scarred by waiting. When I felt miserable, I waited for the holidays, for the weekend, for the end of the day, or even break-time. When I felt hopeful, I waited for exam-results, progress, or social justice. Unfortunately, I am terribly impatient. I compare myself with… Continue reading What are we waiting for?

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There is no single purpose to education – and that is something to be cherished

If we prioritise one purpose of education over another, then we lose sight of what is truly valuable about education. We will all be familiar with something like the following scene: a family is gathered round to celebrate a child’s 2nd birthday. The parents are excited about the fancy gift that they have bought, and… Continue reading There is no single purpose to education – and that is something to be cherished

Socrates and the Ofsted inspector

Ofsted inspector: So, Socrates, we’ve completed our inspection of your teaching, and as you know, we have introduced a new framework for our inspection procedure. We don’t wish schools to merely be exam factories, and so we have a new focus on ensuring that a ‘knowledge-rich’ curriculum is being taught, and I’m afraid that we… Continue reading Socrates and the Ofsted inspector

If you want to complain about exclusions, then first ensure that the education of the most vulnerable is properly funded

It may appear caring for the UK government and the public to be horrified by high-exclusion rates[1], but it is actually the height of hypocrisy. In one of the many wonderful scenes in the 1986 film the Mission, Don Cabeza, an eighteenth-century Spanish slaver, makes his case to an ecclesiastical court and attempts to justify… Continue reading If you want to complain about exclusions, then first ensure that the education of the most vulnerable is properly funded

An appeal for nuance: Five challenges to the argument that ‘all educationally relevant knowledge acquired during instruction is, and only is, domain-specific’

Here I will present five philosophical challenges to the argument presented by Tricot and Sweller in their paper Domain-Specific Knowledge and why Teaching Generic Skills does not work.[i] (NB: Whilst I have many concerns about their use and discussion of Geary’s biologically primary and secondary knowledge, I will not be discussing that here. Suffice to say… Continue reading An appeal for nuance: Five challenges to the argument that ‘all educationally relevant knowledge acquired during instruction is, and only is, domain-specific’

Does knowing the cause of a condition change how we view it?

@AlisonHoneybone was kind enough to respond to my last post The Dangers of Causal Theorising for Teachers with some excellent, and insightful questions. Here I would like to share some thoughts in response to this question: I like the Moliere example. However, I am a little bit concerned about the confusion between neurological conditions, like Tourette's… Continue reading Does knowing the cause of a condition change how we view it?

The Dangers of Causal Theorising for Teachers

In this post, I will argue that causal theorising about the behaviour of children only adds to the confusion. Instead, I propose a responsive scenario-planning approach. 1.      The fallacy of Molière’s doctor In his excellent, but relatively little-known book, the Danger of Words, M. O’C Drury[1] describes a number of fallacies that dog the world… Continue reading The Dangers of Causal Theorising for Teachers

Playing the hand well: on the possibility of evidence-based education

In Annie Duke’s new book, Thinking in Bets she describes how, when she and other hugely successful poker players get together, they frequently discuss the hands that they have played and the decisions that they have made during those hands. They don’t, however, discuss the outcomes of those hands. This is not because they are… Continue reading Playing the hand well: on the possibility of evidence-based education

Jordan Peterson: a misguided desire for certainty in a postmodern world

Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist, has recently been making a splash in the UK promoting his new book, '12 Rules for Life: an Antidote to Chaos'. Peterson’s brand is forthrightly anti-postmodern. For him, the postmodern deconstruction of the grand narratives of history has resulted in a kind of spiritual malaise for many, specifically young… Continue reading Jordan Peterson: a misguided desire for certainty in a postmodern world