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GCSE reform: a modest proposal

The pandemic has cast many assumptions about how education could or should unfold into sharp relief. Like many others, I've been wondering about the positives we might find in our current situation and how - or whether - we can salvage anything when schools eventually return to normal. One area that seems to beg for reform is the way the exam season currently plays out. Here are some of the [...]

By |May 30th, 2020|Categories: assessment|Tags: , , |3 Comments

Why we need to read aloud

Here is the recording of webinar I gave for #LDeduchat this week on 'Why we need to read aloud'. The prerecorded presentation lasts for about 25 mins with the rest of the time given over to Q&A. If you can't be doing with watching it, this is my basic argument: Too many children will not read independently because they are not fluent decoders. This is through no fault of their [...]

By |May 27th, 2020|Categories: reading|Tags: , |8 Comments

How to pay attention

Here is my researchEDHome talk on attention. And, if you want to chase up any of the references they're embedded is the slides below: How to Pay Attention from David Didau I also want to recapitulate an answer I gave to one of the questions I was asked about the distinction between instruction and curriculum. Part of my talk tried to explain Polanyi's idea about 'subsidiary awareness'. Essentially, although attention [...]

By |May 7th, 2020|Categories: Featured|Tags: |0 Comments

Behaving badly in public: Where do we draw the line?

There's never any shortage of stupid on social media. Barely an hour goes by without someone saying something breathtakingly foolish, and this feverish tendency has only been intensified since we've all been confined to barracks for the duration. The last week has seen two senior figures from the old guard of education handed a pile of old rope and rush to bodge together their own  homespun nooses. First up, we [...]

By |May 1st, 2020|Categories: Featured|1 Comment

A reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped

When my daughters were younger I used to read to them every evening. Over the years we read all the Harry Potter books, the Narnia stories, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, most of Alan Garner's output and various others. As they got older we read most of Jane Austen's novels together. I'm not sure who enjoyed all this most, me or them. But sometime [...]

By |April 25th, 2020|Categories: Featured|Tags: , |1 Comment

#ProjectParadise: A group reading project

Well. A few days ago I ran a poll on Twitter to find the most popular long poem for a group reading project and the clear winner, with 44% of the vote, was John Milton's seventeenth century epic, Paradise Lost. OK. If you were to take part in a group reading of a long poem (like the celebs are doing with Rime of the Ancient Mariner' which of the four [...]

By |April 20th, 2020|Categories: Featured|Tags: , |1 Comment

Homework in the time of Corona

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of uncompleted homework. Gabriel Garcia Marquez I've never been much of fan of homework, not as a child, not as a teacher and nor as a parent. It's always seemed a quite unnecessary imposition. As a child, the 'dog' got to homework with unconvincing regularity. As a teacher I hated having even more marking to do. [...]

By |April 3rd, 2020|Categories: Featured|8 Comments

Exam season and COVID19: What should we do?

In the current climate, worrying about whether this year's GCSE and A level exams are going to go ahead as scheduled may seem like small beans but it's a big deal to those directly affected. My eldest is due to sit her GCSEs and is, understandably, frustrated with the uncertainty. The likelihood that schools will carry on as normal over the exam period is looking more and more remote. Something [...]

By |March 16th, 2020|Categories: Featured|3 Comments

The dangers of hierarchy: a recommendation for improving Ofsted inspections

One of the many hard lessons learned by the aviation industry is that distributing responsibility and challenging hierarchical authority saves lives. From examining flight recorders and listening to cockpit recordings, crash investigators know that otherwise avoidable accidents have been caused by dysfunctional relationships between airline crew. The traditional model was the captain was in absolute authority and that questioning his actions was unthinkable. This led copilots and cabin crew to [...]

By |March 7th, 2020|Categories: Featured|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Why interview feedback is a waste of time

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts on the subject of improving the interview process in schools: Part 1: A brief review of the evidence Part 2: Intuition vs. statistical prediction (in which I made suggestions for improving structured interviews) Part 3: The interview lesson I thought I'd said all I needed to say of the subject of school interviews. Then a few days ago I responded [...]

By |February 27th, 2020|Categories: leadership|Tags: , |3 Comments

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