David Didau

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About David Didau

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So far David Didau has created 838 blog entries.

Does creativity have a dark side?

2019-01-30T21:28:15+00:00January 30th, 2019|Featured|

Of course it’s desirable that students are able to identify problems, generate potential solutions, evaluate the effectiveness of those strategies, and then communicate with others about the value of the solutions. If you want to call this 'creativity,' so be it. But it may be that creativity isn't always desirable. Kaufman and Beghetto argue in their wonderfully titled paper, In Praise of Clark Kent: Creative Metacognition and the Importance of Teaching Kids When (Not) to Be Creative, that teachers need to encourage restraint in students and that often it is much more efficient to follow well-established processes rather than trying to think of [...]

Can ‘creativity’ be taught?

2019-01-29T12:34:31+00:00January 29th, 2019|Featured|

The way ideas come to fruition is often mysterious; while we may remember consciously thinking a few things, we are unaware of all the ingredients simmering away in the pot of thought. I like the image of placing a pot on the back boiler on a very low heat and allowing flavours to develop over time. It seems, at least to me, that some of my favourite ideas have emerged in this way. This article on creativity by Paul Carney appeared in Schools Week a few days ago, criticising my ideas about how creativity works. It says: [Didau] argues that creativity is [...]

Why smart people say stupid things: a response to Jack Ma

2019-01-24T14:36:07+00:00January 24th, 2019|Featured|

In case you're unaware, I've just published a book that explains the role of knowledge in thought. Rather than rehash the arguments in depth (there are a series of chapter summaries here) suffice it to say that no one, no matter how intelligent they believe themselves to be, can think about something of which they have no awareness. It's literally impossible, but I'll pause for you to give it go if you're unconvinced... We can only think about things we know, and, the more we know the greater our capacity for thought. It therefore follows that if we want young people [...]

Leading literacy masterclass: 1st March 2019

2019-01-23T09:46:43+00:00January 23rd, 2019|Featured|

Since the publication of The Secret of Literacy back in 2014 I've been asked to visit a lot of schools to talk about how teachers can make sure they're focussing on reading, writing and speaking as well as teaching academic content. In that time I've learned an enormous amount about how schools can successful implement policies that support children's ability to use academic language with burdening teachers with pointless frippery and tedious gimmicks. It's become increasingly clear that I should really condense all this thinking and experience into a new version of the book but, as is so often the case, [...]

Skill = knowledge + practice

2019-04-04T08:14:19+00:00January 11th, 2019|learning|

Over the years I've thought a lot about whether we should be teaching children knowledge of the world or the skills to flourish within it. The debate has moved on a lot in recent years and today it's rare to find anyone arguing against teaching knowledge, but there are many who would still advocate for a balance of knowledge and skill. The more I thought about it, the more I've realised just how meaningless this distinction is. Knowledge and skill and two sides of the same coin. Or, to attempt another analogy, think about teaching as cooking: 'knowledge' is the ingredients, [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Conclusion: Shifting the bell curve

2019-01-11T10:10:47+00:00January 11th, 2019|Featured|

This is the final post in a series of chapter summaries of the arguments made in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the series can be found here. And so, we finally reach the conclusion. Here I explicitly take on the arguments of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein in The Bell Curve. They argue that the normal distribution of intelligence across a population is more or less immutable and that "the story of attempts to raise intelligence is one of high hopes, flamboyant claims, and disappointing results." According to the data, they're pretty much correct. Or at least, it would be correct [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 10 Struggle and success

2019-01-10T14:41:25+00:00January 10th, 2019|Featured|

This post is part of a series of chapter summaries of the arguments made in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the series can be found here. This last chapter is aimed specifically at teachers and makes the case that if our aim is to make children cleverer then we should adopt explicit instruction. We look at why other methodologies which have problem solving at their heart are likely to be ineffective and look back to Chapter 6 on memory to understand why explicit instruction is likely to work best. One thing to make clear is that explicit instruction - or [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 9 Practice makes permanent

2019-01-09T21:09:12+00:00January 9th, 2019|Featured|

This post is part of a series of chapter summaries of the arguments made in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the series can be found here. This chapter moves our discussion of how to make children cleverer from theory into practice. In chapters 6 and 7 we talked about how knowledge can be embedded in long-term memory as 'skill' and here we move to a discussion of how best to make this happen. Practising the wrong things in the wrong ways makes us better at doing things badly; only by practising the right things in the right ways will we [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 8: What knowledge?

2019-01-07T22:46:15+00:00January 7th, 2019|Featured|

This post is part of a series of chapter summaries of the arguments made in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the series can be found here. Having made the case that by teaching children more knowledge we are likely to make them cleverer, it's important to address the question of what knowledge ought to be taught. The case made in this chapter is that we should inoculate children against by trapped in a bubble of the present by teaching them that which that allows them to think new thoughts and make startling connections. The first point to make is that while [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 7 You are what you know

2019-01-07T22:07:37+00:00January 6th, 2019|Featured|

This post summarises the arguments in the seventh chapter of my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the chapter summaries can be found here. I'm sure that some readers who my be otherwise sympathetic to the arguments I advance about making children cleverer will take issue with some of the points I make in this chapter, particularly as I side step some of the thorniest philosophical debates about what precisely constitutes knowledge. Clearly I'd prefer what children know to be composed entirely of justified true beliefs, but sadly our brains are as full of misconceptions, confusions and falsehoods as they are anything [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer: Chapter 6 How memory works

2019-01-05T16:18:21+00:00January 5th, 2019|Featured|

This post is part of a series of chapter summaries of the arguments made in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the series can be found here. If you've been following the argument so far, you'll know that I'm suggesting that we can make children cleverer by increasing their crystallised intelligence - their store of knowledge in long-term memory - and to do that we need to find ways of helping children to remember more stuff. When people speak about memorisation in education it seems to conjure up all sorts of negative associations. In fact, most memorisation takes place without conscious [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 5 Can we get cleverer?

2019-01-04T01:02:00+00:00January 4th, 2019|Featured|

This post summarises the arguments in the fifth chapter of my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the chapter summaries can be found here. If intelligence is casually connected with heath, happiness and safety, if the environment matters in determining how intelligent we end up, how can we go about making ourselves cleverer? One thing we can be fairly sure will raise children’s intelligence is sending them to school. Education and intelligence have a two-way interaction: the more intelligent you are, the longer you stay in school and the longer you stay in school, the more intelligent you become. The evidence supporting [...]