A reading curriculum: Gap-widening vs gap-narrowing

2021-03-24T12:24:23+00:00March 21st, 2021|Featured|

The idea that education acts as a Matthew Effect that disproportionately benefits those who start with most is an uncomfortable but well-understood phenomenon. Everything we do in schools either widens the advantage gap between the most privileged and least privileged students, or narrows it. This is, I think, a real dichotomy: anything that, on balance, appears net neutral is in fact acting to keep the gap a yawning chasm of inequity. This allows us to look at any potential intervention or policy and ask whether it's likely to widen or narrow the gap. Take, for instance, Renaissance Learning's ubiquitous quizzing software, [...]

How should writing fit into the English curriculum?

2021-03-06T18:48:23+00:00March 3rd, 2021|Featured|

I think like many English teachers I've long been conflicted about the position of writing in the curriculum. On the one hand, of course writing is central to students' experience of studying English. Not only should we aim to make them technically proficient, but we should explicitly teach them how to master a range of written styles and genres. But, on the other hand, writing units are turgid. Although I always dreaded the moment in the academic calendar when the inevitable writing scheme of work hoved into view,  I felt guilty. Clearly, the fault was mine and I just needed to [...]

Reforming GCSE English literature and language

2021-02-20T15:43:26+00:00February 8th, 2021|Featured|

Seeing as all sorts of folks have decided now is a good time to try to get rid of (or at least, reform) GCSEs, I thought I'd offer up my opinions. I should start by saying that, on the whole, I'm in favour of retaining exams. If the last two years have taught us anything it's that for all their problems (and despite all the noisy rhetoric to the contrary) no one has been able to suggest anything better. Exams continue to be the worst possible way to assess children apart from all the other ways. The problem with all forms [...]

Making Meaning in English: Book launch

2021-02-19T14:49:19+00:00January 31st, 2021|Featured|

My new book, Making Meaning in English - the final fruits of the burst of productivity I enjoyed during the first phase of lock down - will be available for your delight and edification on 10th February. It is (although you may feel this is a low bar) the best thing I've written. So much so that I'm reluctant to forego the opportunity to mark its entry into the world without a (suitably socially distanced) launch event. For those that missed it, here it is: https://academy.learningspy.co.uk/library-content/making-meaning-in-english-book-launch/

Educational dog whistles (and how not to blow them)

2021-01-25T12:12:32+00:00January 21st, 2021|Featured|

As in every sphere, there are certain phrases or topics that act a dog whistle in education. When people use terms like 'progressive,' 'knowledge-rich,' 'no excuses,' 'deep dive,' or 'fronted adverbial' they are  tapping into a groundswell of - usually negative - opinion which stirs up like minded folk into predictable paroxysms of fury and outrage. What happens is, I think, something like this: for some people 'fronted adverbial' stands for soulless, mind numbing tedium and clunky, inelegant writing. For others, the term conjures up the thought that children are - at long last - receiving some of the much needed [...]

The best 3 sentences in education?

2020-12-14T11:12:08+00:00December 10th, 2020|Featured|

I slide I used in a presentation on the ideas in my book, Making Kids Cleverer has been getting a bit of love on Twitter, with New Zealand school principal referring to it as containing what might be "the three best sentences in education". This could be the three best sentences in education. Thanks ⁦@DavidDidau⁩ pic.twitter.com/cXn37GTeZG — John Young (@JohnYoung18) December 9, 2020 Apart from the missing apostrophe in the second statement, this is obviously very gratifying, and I thought it would be useful to add some context and clarification. The most advantaged will succeed despite what schools do. This is [...]

#BackToSchool – free webinars

2020-08-26T20:48:29+01:00August 26th, 2020|Featured, training|

Over the next few weeks I'll be hosting a series of five 'back to school' webinars on a range to topics aimed at early career teachers, those with a mentoring responsibility and anyone who simply feels they could do with a refresher of some teaching basics. And this year, of all years, who couldn't do with a refresher? Each of the webinars is focussed around a particular area of teaching and would make ideal CPD. Each webinar will be going out at 4pm and registration is FREE for those who need it to be, while those who feel able to pay [...]

Interview on Shoreditch radio

2020-07-02T07:20:59+01:00June 23rd, 2020|Featured|

Last week I was interviewed by Liam Davis on Shoreditch Radio about why I became a teacher, what got me into writing, the ideas in some of my books and the effects of Covid-19 on education. You can listen to the interview above. Is the player not loading above? Then you can listen directly on MixCloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/liam-davis3/educationalist-and-author-david-didau-joined-me-on-shoreditch-radio-to-discuss-his-work/

Introducing… The Learning Spy Academy

2020-06-15T23:17:01+01:00June 12th, 2020|Featured|

The last few months have gone by in a daze. The world seems to have changed - maybe permanently - and my primary means of making a living has vanished. Without knowing how - or if - it's going to work, I'm planning on providing a Webinar on a variety of topics every week for the next few weeks. The first of these, Five things teacher needs to know about reading, will be on Thursday 18th June at 16.00 BST. It will be completely FREE to anyone who wants to access it but there will be an option to pay £5 [...]

How to pay attention

2020-05-26T15:14:25+01:00May 7th, 2020|Featured|

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 implies a 'withdrawal' of focus from one set of things in order to concentrate on another, we nevertheless retain our subsidiary sense. So, for instance, if you were probing a tooth [...]

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

2020-05-01T11:25:06+01:00May 1st, 2020|Featured|

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 had Sir Michael Wilshaw (who, bless him, hasn't had an opportunity to say something breathtakingly foolish for quite a while) suggest that teachers ought to work through their summer holidays. Former [...]

A reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped

2020-05-20T12:18:29+01:00April 25th, 2020|Featured|

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 in the last three or four years our nightly readings ceased. They're teenagers now and not minded to indulge their father's keenness to read aloud. So, for better or worse, I've [...]

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