Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 4: Nature via nurture

2019-01-07T22:00:33+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Featured|

This post summarises the arguments in the fourth chapter of my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the chapter summaries can be found here. A central consideration to the project of making kids cleverer is where intelligence comes from; is it in our genes or is it a product of our environments? The answer is, both. In a very obvious sense no one is ‘born clever’. Babies would universally perform poorly on IQ tests, but some may have a greater potential for intelligence than others. The mistake is to believe that our genes represent our fate. The science of behavioural genetics is [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer Chapter 3: Is intelligence the answer?

2019-01-02T17:53:02+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Featured|

This post summarises the arguments in the third chapter of my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The rest of the chapter summaries can be found here. Whatever it is you value, intelligence seems to be intimately connected with it. When experts are asked to define intelligence they come up with an unhelpfully broad and diverse range of definitions. Although we all tend to know what we mean when we describe a person as intelligent it's surprisingly hard to nail down a pithy description. However, as long as you're prepared to accept a description that isn't at all pithy, we can make some progress. [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 2: Built by culture

2019-01-02T10:17:56+00:00January 1st, 2019|Featured|

This is the second of a series of posts summarising the arguments in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer.  The second chapter reviews some what we know from evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology and archeology about how we learn and think. The human mind is both built for and by culture. Although our brains are essentially the same as those of our Palaeolithic ancestors, our access to the vast accumulation of human culture is what makes us special. However, learning is a costly activity and we have evolved to maximise what can be learned in as short a time as possible. All learning is [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – Chapter 1: The purpose of education

2019-01-02T10:18:43+00:00December 31st, 2018|Featured|

This is the first of a series of posts about the arguments in my new book, Making Kids Cleverer. The intention is, obviously, to sharpen your appetite in the hope that you'll actually give it a read. In this first chapter I set out what I consider to be the three most commonly stated purposes given to the endeavour of educating the young: Socialisation – in this view, education is primarily a tool of the state, employed to make its citizens more productive. Children should be both prepared for work and to become loyal and enthusiastic participants in the activities of [...]

My most read posts of 2018

2018-12-31T12:35:28+00:00December 31st, 2018|Featured|

After almost 8 years of blogging, I find myself becoming more erratic and less concerned about updating the site. That said, I still manage to write 61 posts over the course of 2018. These are the post that got the most hits over the past year. 5. “It’s all about relationships” 11th November Of course the relationships between teachers and students matter, but maybe they matter less than many would like to believe. This post was written in response to a school leader claiming that at his school there are no behaviour problems in either the English or maths departments because the teachers [...]

Making Kids #Cleverer – a summary

2019-01-11T12:05:16+00:00December 30th, 2018|Featured|

At long last, my new book, Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap, is out in the world. The argument is divided into 10 chapters and a conclusion and, over the coming days and weeks, I will elaborate on what each of the chapters contains. Chapter 1 The purpose of education - In which we examine the various claims made about the purpose of education and conclude that if we aim to make all children cleverer we are most likely to achieve whatever else we value. Chapter 2 Built by culture - In which we discuss the ways our brains have been shaped to [...]

The best books I’ve read since June

2018-12-17T21:30:05+00:00December 17th, 2018|Featured|

Back in June I posted on the books I had found most interesting and enjoyable during the first half of the year. They were: Factfulness by Hans Rosling, Enlightenment Now by Stephen Pinker, Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb, How to Fly a Horse, by Kevin Ashton, Thinking Reading by James and Diane Murphy, Educated by Tara Westover, The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley, Why Nations Fail: by James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu, We Were Eight Years in Power by TaNehisi Coates, Carthage Must be Destroyed by Richard Miles, Fatherland, Robert Harris, Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities, Bettany Hughes and A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The stories in [...]

A tribute to my best teacher

2018-11-27T17:50:56+00:00November 26th, 2018|Featured|

There's little doubt in my mind that my English teacher, Roy Birch was the best teacher I had at school.He became my teacher in what is now known as Year 10. I was part of the first ever cohort to take the GCSE and none of us really knew what to expect of the course but I do remember dreading having Birch as a teacher. He was a physically imposing man - well over 6 and a half foot tall, with a spade beard and size 13 Dr Marten shoes. He was widely considered terrifying and there were rumours that one 1st [...]

How to explain… schema

2018-10-31T20:39:37+00:00October 31st, 2018|Featured|

I've spent a fair bit of time trying to explain various psychological concepts in a way that is easily grasped by busy teachers and have come to the conclusion that some of my explanations might be worth recording on the blog. First up is a simple explanation of what a schema is, how it is formed and why this is worth knowing. Because we have no capacity to introspect our long-term memories no one has any idea what actually happens in there. We know we must have a long-term memory because we can think about something, stop thinking about it and [...]

Survivorship bias and the enduring appeal of bad ideas

2018-10-09T13:19:52+00:00October 9th, 2018|Featured|

Survivorship bias occurs when we draw conclusions from examples which have passed some selection criteria and systematically discount those which have not. During World War II, British bombers were suffering a fairly awful attrition rate and the RAF were understandably keen to try to improve their survivability. Most of the bombers that limped back to base showed signs of heavy damage around the cockpit and wing tips and so the prevailing opinion was that if these sections of the aircraft were reinforced more planes would survive. Then, along came statistician, Abraham Wald who pointed out that engineers were only considering the [...]

A measurement checklist

2018-10-03T20:44:47+00:00October 3rd, 2018|Featured|

Campbell's Law: The more any quantitive social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to measure. Goodhart's Law: Any measure used for control is unreliable. Metrics can be great. We can be so preoccupied at seeing only what’s right in front of us that it’s all too easy to miss anything peripheral. It’s hard to argue that metrics haven’t led to major improvements in education from when I started teaching in the late 90s. Back in [...]

What’s the best (and easiest) way to teach?

2018-09-25T13:25:50+00:00September 25th, 2018|Featured|

I thought I'd said all I ever wanted to say about group until, responding to a tweet from an education professor exhorting all teachers to add group work to their teaching repertoires, I unwisely suggested that maybe that wasn't such great advice. Unless you teach PE, drama, or some other subject where outcomes require cooperation this may not be good advice. Instead think very carefully about what the purpose of asking children to work in groups might be. All too often it adds little and costs much. https://t.co/psx985tnSS — David Didau (@DavidDidau) September 23, 2018 In all honesty, I really don't [...]