David Didau

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So far David Didau has created 866 blog entries.

What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory?

2019-12-18T08:06:42+00:00December 17th, 2019|psychology|

I've come to the conclusion Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory is the single most important thing for teachers to know https://t.co/MkJJLruR8g — Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam) January 26, 2017 What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory? The short answer is, not that much. There's an awful that's been written and said about Cognitive Load Theory (CTL) in recent years and most of it is wholly unnecessary for teachers to know about. At it's heart, the theory relies on a decades old model of human cognition, generally referred to as the Working Memory Model. It's important to note that this model [...]

Where we’re getting curriculum wrong Part 2: Powerful knowledge

2020-04-04T17:00:00+01:00December 12th, 2019|curriculum|

In part 1 of this blog series I discussed the importance of cultural capital, where we might be getting it wrong, what it consists of, and how to resolve the problem of 'dead white men'. Where we're getting 'powerful knowledge' wrong While we can make a case that all knowledge is precious, not all knowledge is equally precious. In Bringing Knowledge Back In, education professor Michael Young advanced the idea of ‘powerful knowledge’. In Young's view, knowledge is powerful if it fulfils a number of characteristics. It should: provide reliable explanations and a sound basis for making judgements and generalisations about [...]

Where we’re getting curriculum wrong Part 1: Cultural capital

2020-02-25T09:29:41+00:00December 11th, 2019|curriculum|

Where we're getting 'cultural capital' wrong The concept of 'cultural capital' is increasingly on the agenda in the schools I visit. No doubt this is in large part down to Ofsted. The latest inspection framework makes specific mention of the term in its guidance on what a school curriculum ought to contain. School leaders are told they will be judged on the extent to which they "construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all learners ... the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life". Sadly, the term remains undefined and nowhere is it made clear [...]

The importance of play (and why it’s better to avoid bullshit)

2019-12-11T14:29:47+00:00December 10th, 2019|Featured|

Play is an essential part of learning. The young of many species play in order to test their physical limits, form bonds with others, explore the environment, practice hunting behaviours and generally mimic their elders. Human children are no different in this respect: we play in order to learn about ourselves and our environment. It's probably true to say that the instinct to play is 'hardwired' into us and, short of locking children in a box, there's no way to prevent them from playing. Social learning is the basis for the transmission of human culture and play is an unavoidable component [...]

My favourite reads this year

2019-12-09T16:58:19+00:00December 9th, 2019|Featured|

In no particular order, these are the books I have most enjoyed reading during 2019. Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind, Tom Holland As a long-time admirer of Holland's brand of history, I was very much looking forward to this. In this he retreads some of the basic territory covered in Millennium and In the Shadow of the Sword, but takes it in a new and startling direction. His basic thesis is that all every aspect of modern Western culture has been shaped by our Christian roots. He begins by addressing the cultural norms of late antiquity and the struggle [...]

The distorting lens of perspective (and why teachers need to be professionally sceptical)

2019-11-26T19:24:32+00:00November 26th, 2019|Featured|

We view the world from our own stance. Our view is unique which means we have unique insights and observations to offer, but it also means other people, viewing from different perspectives, see something different. I was interested to read Tom Sherrington's recent blog levelling the blame for substandard teaching at the feet of teachers he describes as 'Bad Trads': The teacher is up there, trying to teach in an instructional manner but finding it hard.  They’re struggling to marshall [sic] the material and control behaviour; they’re not explaining well; their questioning is weak; their resources are poorly designed to support [...]

The road to hell

2019-11-29T23:01:34+00:00November 24th, 2019|Featured|

My default assumption is that everyone working in education has good intentions. We all want children to be happier, healthier, safer, more creative and better problem solvers. But, good intentions are never enough. Over the past eight years I have used this blog to campaign against the nonsense that used to pervade the system. In the bad old days, Ofsted was the ‘child-centred inquisition’ burning teachers who talked for too long at the stake. Group work, ‘active’ and ‘self-directed’ learning were held up as unquestioned good things and all dissent was crushed with inadequate judgements. We can look back with a [...]

What works best for children with SEND works best for all children

2019-11-18T16:58:14+00:00November 17th, 2019|Featured|

What works best for children with SEND? That, of course, depends upon the precise nature of children's particular needs. That said, we can draw some generalisable conclusions by thinking about some of the more common areas of special educational need. For instance, a child with a working memory deficit is likely to benefit from having information carefully sequenced and instruction broken into manageable chunks. But all children have limited working memory capacity. Dyslexic children have the best possible chance of learning to read fluently if they are given carefully sequenced systematic synthetic phonics instruction. This is equally true of children who are [...]

Are schools ever at fault for exclusions?

2019-11-11T10:04:48+00:00November 11th, 2019|behaviour|

Sometimes schools get it wrong. It may even be that there are some schools led by nefarious headteachers who, in an effort to game league tables, seek to get rid of those students who are most likely to jeopardise their positions. It may even be the case that in a few case these students are more sinned against than sinning. But this is, I think most people would agree, a relatively rare scenario. It's actually fairly difficult to exclude students: schools need to document the incidents that led up to the decision and then the student is given an opportunity to [...]

What causes exclusion and what does exclusion cause?

2019-11-10T15:33:20+00:00November 10th, 2019|behaviour|

Adult authority in schools is a paper tiger which depends on students agreeing to accept it. Some children choose not to and therefore have the power to make the lives of others miserable. Over the years I’ve taught a small number of students I came to dread seeing. Every encounter was another skirmish in an exhausting war of attrition, usually a war I felt I was losing. When a student no longer cares about any of the consequences, the war is lost. What then? The behaviour of a small minority of students' behaviour cannot be accommodated in mainstream school without endangering [...]

What should schools teach?

2019-10-29T13:20:54+00:00October 29th, 2019|Featured|

All knowledge may be precious, but it's hard to argue that it's equally precious. The time children spend in school is strictly finite and so, when deciding what to teach we must must make choices. Often these choices will necessarily be brutal. I was recently contacted by a marketing company who wanted me to write about some 'research' conducted by SellHouseFast which analysed search terms used on UK search engines to find out which queries related to "the real world" are most search for. Here's the result: The argument appears to be that if people are searching for these things then [...]

The trouble with Shakespeare, or Should everything be made simple?

2019-10-28T06:39:34+00:00October 26th, 2019|English|

I'm regularly inundated by unsolicited emails from folk hoping I'll endorse their products. Recently, I received one asking me if I'd be interested in writing about a collaboration between the software firm Adobe and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Apparently this is the result: Adobe and the RSC have worked with five UK artists and photographers to reimagine iconic Shakespeare scenes to provide inspiration for young people and their teachers. Using illustration, comic book artistry and photography, the artists have recreated pivotal scenes from Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet. I don't have any particular interest in this and [...]