Welcome to The Learning Spy
In 2011, frustrated by the current state of education I began to blog. Since then I have expressed the constraints and irritations of ordinary teachers, detailed the successes and failures of my classroom and synthesised my 15 years of teaching experienced through the lens of education research and cognitive psychology. The Learning Spy is widely recognised as one of the most influential education blogs in the UK and has won a number of awards. In February 2017, I recorded 2.5 million visitors to the site.
So, what have I done with all this influence? Well, Ofsted started listening. In 2014 I consulted on the Inspection Handbook and made a commitment to common sense and practical humanity which has resulted in lesson observation grades being scrapped and inspectors asked to ‘look at’ classroom practice and ask questions, rather than ‘look for’ preferred methodologies.
I’ve also spent a lot of time working in schools to improve the way teachers approach students’ literacy. The Secret of Literacy, urged teachers to ‘make the implicit explicit’. Teachers are highly literate but often have little idea how they are able to do what they do. Often teachers just assume students can do what they can do. Breaking down and codifying what teachers are able to do, allows them to teach reading and writing more effectively.
My new book, What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Psychology is out shortly.
What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong? explores the idea that much of what happens in schools is based on unexamined assumptions. My most important insight is, contrary to our intuitions, learning is invisible. All we can see is what students can do and from that we infer what they might have learned. But students’ performance turns out to be a very poor proxy for predicting long-term retention and the ability to transfer skills and concepts between different contexts. This simple observation is well supported by research evidence and classroom observations, but widely ignored in education. If true, many of the sacred cows of teaching are in doubt. The ways teachers teach, curriculums are organised and teachers held to account might all rest on a misapprehension of how learning happens. In the book, I suggest how we might go about rethinking education in order to realign schools with how children actually.
My most recent book, What Every Teacher Needs To Know About Psychology, co-written with Nick Rose, does exactly what the title suggests – discussing the classroom implications of the psychological principles most useful in an educational context.
As well as being a freelance writer, speaker and trainer, I am also running the English Studies modules as part of BPP University’s PGCE course. If you’d like to book me to deliver training or speak at a conference, please email me or contact me via Twitter @DavidDidau. For specific events at which I will be speaking, click here.
And if you’d like to know a little more about me, these two posts will give you a flavour: This is who I am and This is what I think.