Neo-progressivism

//Neo-progressivism

Like most people involved in education, I believe in social justice. I want all children, no matter their backgrounds or starting points, to have the best chance of achieving well. I want young people to be creative. I want them to be skilled at collaborating with others to solve problems. I want them to be able to clearly and critically communicate their thoughts. I want them to take on challenges and persist in the face of set backs. I want them to be prepared for an uncertain future. And, of course, I want them to be tolerant, compassionate, open-minded, curious, cooperative and to help leave the world in a better condition than that in which they found it. Who wouldn’t?

Where I disagree with some people is on how we can best achieve these aims. As I explained in my taxonomy, knowledge underpins all of those attributes we consider desirable. No one is born with the knowledge required to think critically about important issues and solve pressing problems in the world; we acquire this over time. But some children do start life with advantages over others.

One advantage is to be born with a higher fluid intelligence and a greater than average working memory capacity. This is a massive head start as raw reasoning ability and the ability to hold more things in mind at once means that you will find understanding new information easier than those without these advantages. You’ll learn more quickly.

A second advantage is to be born into an environment that provides richer stimuli. If your parents have the education, the time and the freedom conferred by being wealthier, you’re likely to have opportunities other, less advantaged children won’t get. You’re likely to be read more stories, encounter more vocabulary, have more interesting dinner table conversations and access to a realm of ideas of increasing sophistication. When you start school, what you know will be like intellectual velcro; the new stuff you encounter in school will stick to it more easily.

Of course children must be treated with respect and dignity, but if our approach to education is ‘child-centred’, we’re likely to value allowing children to choose what they’re interested in rather than ensuring they study what we think is more important. We’re more likely to give them freedoms instead of clear boundaries and firm discipline. If we make excuses as to why some children cannot be expected to behave, focus on generic skills rather than building the knowledge base which makes such skills possible and prioritise a curriculum that’s fun, relevant and non-academic, then we’re helping to ensure that the gap between those who start education with the advantage of a higher fluid intelligence or greater access to cultural capital and those without these advantages grows ever greater.

In the past, the aims of progressive education made a certain kind of intuitive sense. Against the backdrop of the cruelties of corporal punishment and the casual barbarism endemic in early and pre 20th century schooling I can see why anyone decent might have concluded that a change was needed. In the absence of the clear evidence that has emerged from cognitive science in the last couple of decades such choices could be understood and forgiven. The aims of the 21st century skills lobby would be utterly unrecognisable to them; progressivism has changed.

The neo-progressive knows about the limitations of working memory, the transformational power of rich background knowledge, and the tendency of children to be more motivated to engage in biologically primary evolutionary adaptations rather than focus on the hard task of mastering new biologically secondary modules. The neo-progressive ignores this information in favour of what they prefer to be true. They are, whether they know it or not, in thrall to neo-Marxist ideology spawned by dead while men like Derrida and Sartre. Such a stance wilfully and deliberately increases societal inequities. Not only this, the neo-progressive espouses methodologies and practices that are impossible to implement as intended and so only add to teachers’ workload and sense of guilt with no discernible benefit to children beyond, at best,  a fleeting sense of very mild enjoyment.

Anyone who disingenuously argues that there is ‘no best way‘ to teach, that child-centred approaches are equally as valid as explicit instruction, is responsible for poorer children from less advantaged backgrounds being further squeezed out the best universities and best-paid jobs. You are, whether you want to admit it or not, pursuing the same aims as the libertarian alt-right, wherein no one gets a hand up or hand out; survival of the fittest and the devil take the hindmost.

This is, I deem, important. This isn’t just me working up a head of steam against well-intentioned blunderers, this is a response to growing tendency of the neo-progressive to label anyone who takes a practical, pragmatic approach to teaching children to be creative, curious and critical as a member of the far right. Remember this? Or any of these examples? Or this particularly hate-spewing example platformed by Schools Week?

There are a vociferous minority of, predominantly UK, teachers who exalt a particular brand of right wing ideology that sits uncomfortably with the more enlightened majority in the profession. These neo-traditionalists, or pseudo-trads, take their inspiration from Michael Gove and have a very narrow view of the purpose of education. Their over-zealous evangelizing, tendency to “troll” those who disagree with them, and to “hunt in packs,” is akin to the methodologies adopted by Nigel Farage, and his far right UKIP, during the BREXIT referendum. Fortunately, the pseudo-trads remain something of a non-entity in the real world but that does not mean we should under-estimate them. After all most liberal-minded people underestimated the dangerous fascists Nigel Farage, and more recently Donald Trump. Most worrying is the fact that some of the pseudo-trads seemingly have the ear of the Schools Minister Nick Gibb, and although their influence within the teaching profession is negligible in staff rooms across the UK, it is growing at ministerial level. We should not forget that whoever controls education shapes the world.

Charming.

If, like me, you want to see an end to social injustice, abandon the ideological dependence on out-worn, bankrupt theories of how we’d like to children to learn and start taking note of what science is revealing about how children actually learn.

2018-01-23T13:16:52+00:00

49 Comments

  1. theoldprimaryhead April 9, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Hi David. One thing I keep battling with is how the top universities are not about taking the brightest. That many students from state schools are achieving the exam results to get in. They get pipped by their peers due to not having experiences that broaden their life experiences. It may not be education that holds these pupils back but access to varied and exciting life experiences such as broad travel, opportunities to work in low paying creative industries (fashion etc), access to people with influence… I believe that schools are getting to grips with empowering students with knowledge and a better education… I am not convinced it will narrow the gaps between the haves and haves not. Though, I will die trying.

    • David Didau April 9, 2017 at 9:26 am - Reply

      You’re right to say that “access to varied and exciting life experiences such as broad travel, opportunities to work in low paying creative industries (fashion etc), access to people with influence” is often the difference between the winners and losers in the educational lottery. I think there are things we can do about this – and I’m certain we can always strive to do more. The first step was in identifying the problem. The next step is to correctly align ourselves towards the solution. It drives me crazy that that’s where we’ve gotten stuck.

  2. theoldprimaryhead April 9, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Absolutely agree. Have to get the roots right. Where the utter disadvantage will come is schools can never replicate an Easter holiday in New York, or a weeks work experience at the Daily Mail and the gap will eventually not be narrowed through exam results alone. This is where some colleagues become evangelical about the broader curriculum. What’s exciting is I really do think that if we have healthy roots then we can begin to grow a broader range of exciting experiences. The fact that we can say state school students are academically on a par is the first step.

  3. thinkreadtweet April 9, 2017 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Well said, David. And let’s start with the teaching of reading. The jury is no longer out. We know that whole language falls short. Let’s ensure every child leaves school able to read at their age level.

  4. Jennifer April 9, 2017 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I suspect whole language is lurking, and what about the young people who have suffered ft that kind of teaching?

  5. chestnut April 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Totally agree. If we use the present circumstances of children to make excuses for their failure to achieve then we blight their future.

    Let’s start with behaviour.

  6. Becca April 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Would be curious to hear your thoughts on the EYFS curriculum & methodologies in this instance. Does the same apply to our youngest pupils? When some join school having had limited social interactions, some not even able to respond to their own name, are we widening the gap with child led learning from day one?

    • David Didau April 9, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Genuinely, I’m still thinking about that. Although you could argue that some children might need environmental exposure to the kind of inputs which led to use developing biological adaptions, I don’t know whether this justifies the injunctions around play based curricula. Even though I don’t think all EYFS should be about formal instruction, disadvantaged children could benefit from more teacher direction. But as I say, I’m undecided and certainly not knowledgeable enough about early years to make any sort of pronouncement.

      • teachwell April 10, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

        Teacher direction need not mean formal instruction though David. Child-led and focusing on individual interests as part of the EYFS curriculum means that teachers focus on the limited world that the children inhabit rather than broadening it. The fact that exactly how much is child-led is left to individual providers also means that the experiences of children of adult-led interactions and instruction is varied. Therefore in one environment children will be encouraged to mark make in nursery, in others they will be left to do it when they start to want to do it. This all makes a difference.

        • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 5:51 pm - Reply

          I think my comment acknowledged that distinction. Sorry if there was any ambiguity.

  7. Political Leanings | sputniksteve April 9, 2017 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    […] I was labelled an alt-right, pseudo-trad fascist by one prominent headteacher. But, much like @DavidDidau, I think that children deserve an education designed to empower them by inculcating in them an […]

  8. sputniksteve April 9, 2017 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Hi David,
    Thanks for writing this.

    I’ve grown increasingly bewildered by the accusations of right wing fascism that I’ve seen on Twitter and on some recent blog posts aimed at that those who suggest that teaching stuff to kids might help them.

    FWIW, I’ve written my own brief blog post on the matter: https://sputniksteve.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/political-leanings/

  9. pricedav April 9, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    David,
    I mean this with all due respect for the obvious scholasticism that lies behind your opinions: I think you need to get out more.

    If you visited schools in Silicon Valley, or the High Tech High Schools, or the Expeditionary Learning schools (140 of them all over America) you’d see schools that are clearly child-centred, project-based and personalised . You’d see schools that have been achieving 4-yr college acceptance rates in excess of 90% for over a decade. Many of these schools have high %-ages of students from low-income families, facing multiple challenges in urban contexts.

    If that’s too big a trek, go to School 21 in Tower Hamlets, who have been inspired by these schools.

    Even allowing for a narrow definition of success (essentially, test scores) these schools have outstanding outcomes AND seem to have exceptionally high levels of student engagement to accompany college and career readiness.

    Were all of their students born with higher fluid intelligence (or have the schools nurtured this intelligence?) and should we neo-progressives ignore the fact that very high proportions of their graduating students are the first in family to go to university? They seem to be confounding your argument about neo-progressives wilfully exacerbating social inequality?

    I’d appreciate seeing the evidence you have for making these claims.

    • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 7:33 am - Reply

      If anyone at School21 ever invites me to visit I’ll definitely take them up on it.

      One note: you say “Were all of their students born with higher fluid intelligence (or have the schools nurtured this intelligence?)” Fluid intelligence is fixed. Science has not found a way to increase it. The only way we can increase intelligence is to increase crystallised intelligence: https://www.learningspy.co.uk/psychology/making-kids-cleverer/

      You also say you’d like to see evidence for my claims. Which ones specifically?

      • pricedav April 10, 2017 at 11:17 pm - Reply

        Nice try, David, but you’ve avoided the question. How do you explain well over 100 Expeditionary Learning schools in the US achieving extraordinary outcomes (in high schools getting over 95% acceptance into Higher Education) despite intakes of significantly higher-than-average socio-economic backgrounds. How do these schools seem to narrow the social injustice gap, rather than your claim that they increase it?

        If you can’t or won’t offer an explanation, can you at least show statistical evidence that child-centred education is socially unjust?

        • David Didau April 11, 2017 at 10:21 am - Reply

          Without access to a lot of data I don’t have there’s no way I can address your claims about the “extraordinary outcomes” of the schools you like. Equally, I have no idea what they actually do. For all I know they don’t achieve their success in the ways you assume they do. If you want statistical evidence that discovery are approaches, they I can point you to the most recent PISA results which showed that discovery approaches are negatively correlated with outcomes throughout the world: https://www.learningspy.co.uk/featured/pisa-2015-tentative-thoughts-successful-schools/

          • pricedav April 11, 2017 at 9:31 pm

            This is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ear and shouting “I can’t hear you’ … Don’t you WANT to know what Expeditionary Learning Schools do? After all they’re significantly bigger than the Harris Fed/Michaela et al, have better results over a longer period, and it would take all of 2 minutes to visit their website and see their outcomes and their mission/methods. It doesn’t require ploughing through a lot of data, as you infer.

            But, of course, to learn about other approaches that don’t sit with your world-view could be disturbing. As other comments have identified, there is no absolute certainty about ‘What Works’ and anyone who claims there is, is disregarding inconvenient truths. As the Carnegie Foundation assert, everything works for someone somewhere; nothing works for everyone, everywhere.

          • David Didau April 11, 2017 at 9:59 pm

            Of course I can (and have) visited their website. Unsurprisingly, they quite positive about themselves. I’d want to “plough through a lot of data” to check the veracity of their claims.

            You’re also clearly under the impression that I’ve always though as I now do. I began this blog as a progressively inclined teacher – you might be surprised if you read through some of my early posts. I’ve also published a book on the jarring experience of making mistakes and being wrong in education in which `i lay out many of my own experiences of getting things wrong.

            Your reaction to my post is precisely what I’ve come to expect of people who would prefer to put their fingers in their ears rather than think critically. I’ve certainly never claimed there is any kind of certainty. In fact, I’ve written extensively on the danger of certainty in polluting our thinking. One thing I do know for sure though is that the Carnegie Foundation is not capable of supplying the last word on anything. Magic works nowhere. Astrology works nowhere. Brain Gym works nowhere. As for discovery learning *of course* it *can* work, it’s just less effective than more explicit approaches.
            Interestingly, the only time (to my knowledge) there was a a direct trial between explicit and discovery approaches was back in the 1960s. You can read about it here: https://www.learningspy.co.uk/research/hirsch-vs-engelmann-no-scientific-evidence-direct-instruction/

      • Michael Rosen April 12, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

        Peter Hyman. Very accessible bloke. Our sons are buddies. Give him a call. He’ll be delighted to see you, I’m sure.

    • Michael Pye April 10, 2017 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      I was hoping to learn something on this topic by researching Tower Hamlets but I can find no evidence that project-based learning and child centered teaching was the reason for Tower Hamlets success.
      (This obviously does not prove you wrong but is sufficient to make a reasonable person doubt your claims).

      This article was the best I could find and lists multiple reasons for the turn around (none backed up by verifiable references or evidence).
      https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/the-transformation-of-tower-hamlets-how-they-did-it/

      Notice how it has no mention of PBL and CCT.
      60% extra funding, exceptionally talented leadership (their conclusion) assistance with housing for staff and high levels of professional development are mentioned.

      Have you visited the schools you are referencing? Though it should be noted that even if you had visited, that alone wouldn’t support your argument without more detail. Please consider the following points

      1: You have demanded evidence of the other person (which has actually been given elsewhere on this blog) while giving yourself a free pass.

      2: You have engaged in Texas sharpshooting of the evidence, there are exemplar schools using all sorts of approaches. This is why statistical thinking is so important.

      3: Please do give us well supported viewpoints. Like many others I have changed my view on this topic and I am prepared to change it back or refine it further but I need detail and rigor.

      I am going to go out now and enjoy the sunshine.

    • Miss Friday April 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      I work in schools in Silicon Valley, both rich and poor. (My job is itinerant and so I work in 3-8 schools per year.) And yes, most of the teachers attempt to teach using the pedagogies you describe. These pedagogies are somewhat successful in the rich schools, and a complete and total failure in the poor ones. (And yes, I can name specific schools, but won’t, because this is the Internet.) Here are my observations from the trenches:

      1) The kids in the poor schools do not know the answers to the bone-basic questions I ask them in my class. They can barely behave themselves well enough for me to teach them. And I am known as disciplinarian. One colleague working at a poor school described her classes as “whip-and-chair.”

      2) The kids in the poor schools work far slower and require many more repetitions to learn the material I am trying to teach them. (I do not use progressive pedagogy; I have no use for it.) This is such a predicable phenomenon that I have developed a second set of lesson plans specifically for these schools, which do not cover the same amount of material. Far less than 90% of these kids can read on grade-level. Some are three or more grade-levels behind on reading. How do I know? Their teachers tell me. (These are neuro-typical kids, not SEN.)

      3) The kids in the rich schools are bored stiff with their regular classes. (My class only happens once a week.) In every single class, at every single rich school, every single week I receive the same comment. “Yay! I love your class, the time goes by so quickly. Why can’t you come every day?”

      4) There are plenty of secondary schools in Silicon Valley that do NOT have 90% college acceptance rates. Most of them are in poor, or mixed, neighborhoods. How do I know? My friends, family, and colleagues, and private tutoring clients go to these schools. I graduated from one such school, where the drop-out rate has been 30% for decades.

      I don’t know which part of Silicon Valley you have personal, extensive knowledge of, but it is not the part I’ve been living and working in for the last 40 years.

      • David Didau April 11, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

        Hi Miss Friday – if you were able to name specific schools by email I’d really appreciate continuing the discussion: ddidau@gmail.com

  10. John R. Walkup, Ph.D. April 10, 2017 at 12:03 am - Reply

    It’s not that traditional methods are better than progressive methods, or that progressive methods are better than traditional methods, or even that they are equally effective. Each is effective in certain situations, and not effective in all situations. Which is better? A fork or a spoon? The question is equally inane. I use direct instruction most of the time, but revert to student-centered instruction when the nature of the topic (and the Bloom’s Taxonomy level of the content) is more amenable to it.

    • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

      Ok, let me be clearer. Explicit instruction is always more effective with novices. Discovery methods are more effective with experts. So, unless you’re teaching school age children one day and then post graduate students the next, then your claim just isn’t true.

      What topics are, in your opinion, more amenable to discovery approaches? And for that matter, what levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy are more more amenable to it? (You should know, I consider most interpretations of Bloom’s to be ill-considered bunkum: https://www.learningspy.co.uk/featured/didaus-taxonomy/)

      • Sheli April 10, 2017 at 9:43 am - Reply

        I’m not convinced that’s true for early years (explicit instruction for novices / discovery for experts). My belief (for primary) is that a mixture of both works well – my experience supports this view. I would be more convinced of your arguments if you had broader educational experience.

        Like Becca, I am concerned about the massive gap that we have to try and bridge, between the children that come into school, at age 4/5. Many have not had the experiences, therefore the language, that you would hope. Sometimes, the best way to teach effectively is to build on their interests.

        • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm - Reply

          Yes, but setting your ‘belief’ ahead of modern developmental psychology is a touch hubristic. Discovery methods only work effectively with either experts or with biologically primary evolutionary adaptations like walking and talking.

  11. Susan April 10, 2017 at 6:35 am - Reply

    Positivity can enrich the mind and make it oerceptive to new ideas and knowledge. Think of a child born in a poor country. The dream in the heart feeds the brain and we see Doctors and proffessors come from such bakgrounds even with illeterate parents. In my view each child must have a dream and want desperatly to achieve it.

    • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 7:38 am - Reply

      Do you think your wish is at odds with anything I’ve advocated?

    • Michael Pye April 10, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Positivity can leave the mind open to manipulation, overly receptive to fads and dangerous abuses of knowledge.

      Think of the poor people who just remain poor unable to crawl out of the gutter because they are to busy finding the next meal?

      What if a child doesn’t have a dream and doesn’t want to desperately achieve it?

      What happens when the un-achievable dream crushes the spirit? Leaving bitterness and resentment in it’s place

      What do we do with the mediocre, the ordinary, the vast mass at the center of the bell curve?

  12. ZebaC April 10, 2017 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I feel conflicted here. By inclination and outlook, I’m progressive, in other words, child-centred, project-based,yadda yadda. My classroom arrangement severely discomforts other teachers because I group my students around tables – six per group. This is because I use a mix of direct and group instruction in virtually every lesson and I don’t want my students wasting time regrouping every now and then, I want them to go straight into discussion and feedback so I can check if they have understood and learnt whatever was the target for today. I don’t particularly ‘believe’ in any specific method.

    What works with one class one day won’t necessarily work another day or with another group. Some classes fly when doing a project-based activity. Others struggle. I have contradictory activities going on in some classes (my tiny GCSE set has four non-native speakers who work actively and consistently to improve each other’s writing and accuracy and four native speakers who can’t collaborate on anything because every ounce of concentration has to go on sustaining focus so that they can write a coherent sentence).

    Drawing battle lines is unproductive and unhelpful. It’s why I have issues with the prescriptive/defensive approach taken by some schools using a limited range of approaches and techniques and presenting direct instruction and tight behaviour management as the only path to effective teaching with a bombastic and proselytising zeal that innately puts backs up with the assumption that no one else in the country is teaching effectively.

    But…I am an adult, with umpteen years’ life experience, study and reflection on my side. Of course I know more than the teenagers in my class, certainly about my subject, about pedagogy and quite often, about the world. It’s my job as a teacher, to make sure they understand a) what they need to know and do to jump through the hoops; b) how to decode and navigate a complex world; c) that being a decent human being is perhaps more important than a string of A*. As an English teacher, I’d also like to ensure that they leave school capable of expressing their emotions, ideas and concepts in lucid, elegant language, whether spoken or written. Sometimes, simply telling them stuff, no whistles and bells, is the easiest way of delivering information. Sometimes, they need to work out things for themselves. Sometimes they need to practice what they’ve been taught, sometimes, they absorb it and we can move on.

    The whole point about really effective teaching is that it shapes itself to the class and the peculiar chemistry of the individuals within it and a good teacher has a generous arsenal of techniques and approaches to shape the learning that goes on in that classroom. It doesn’t matter what places those techniques and approaches come from. What matters is that students leave enriched by their time in that classroom. This goes back to the heart of why ultimately, however much evidence we amass, there can be no guaranteed way of ensuring that students learn, of prescribing how teachers should teach. We are all individuals. Great teachers, the ones who really open doors and shove their students through them, are the ones who can subsume their ego and convictions of what is right or wrong or what works and what doesn’t work to ensure that what is going on in the classroom gets students to the place where they need to go. The argument about progressive vs traditionalist is a dead end. Teachers need to read widely, think hard about their own practice and test all the available methods so that they are ready to work with the students in front of them.

    • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      This is the perspective of the pre-scientific doctor trying to relieve patients of ill humours. If you accepted that paradigm then bloodletting made sense. How did they know blood letting worked? well, look at all the patients that survived and recovered! What about the one’s who died? Well, these things happen. You can’t win ’em all.

      • jameswilding April 10, 2017 at 7:42 pm - Reply

        This comment not worthy of the more general argument being conducted here. At the highest level of GCSE outcome required for A* or 8/9, and even more obviously for A level/Bacc we simply can’t teach the child the answer. Instruction will only take the individual student so far. How do I know the learner must stretch further? By being less helpful, more opaque, signposting and such like; and that only works when the relationship built with the individual is strong enough, which means they must have experienced that need to strive earlier. Once David has learned how vital play is to early development, you might understand why trial and error, permitting failure prior to success is part of the more general learning method repertoire teachers need to call upon.

        • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

          Did you ever read this? https://www.learningspy.co.uk/learning/the-feedback-continuum/

          Also, genuine trial and error learning is vanishingly rare: https://www.learningspy.co.uk/learning/two-types-learning-one-best/

          Finally, saying play is essential to Ey education is axiomatic. This is a disputed claim. Make your case, present your evidence and lay out what would persuade you to change your mind. Not doing this is rigging the game and is intellectually dishonest.

          • jameswilding April 10, 2017 at 8:06 pm

            I read most of your posts David, and you are doing our profession a great service by surfacing much modern scientific evidence based findings. I just don’t like experienced teachers using same being equated to pre – enlightenment witchdoctor quackery.

          • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm

            You might not like it, but I think the comparison is apt.

    • Michael Pye April 10, 2017 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Imagine going to a doctor, or engineer who explains the importance of developing their own professional practice and exploring alternative approaches. This sounds great until you go home and after a bit of research find all those paths are already well trod and the consequences well understood. The higher the spires of knowledge rise the vaster the base.
      You learn this directly so you can spend your lifetime inching the pinnacle ever higher.

      I have taught for nearly ten years now, I have no real idea how the vast majority of my students have responded to my small role in their life. Any attempt to believe otherwise is arrogance, ego and delusion. I have to use the experiences and research of others to guide me. Please think ZebaC about your arguments.

      I remember being frustrated about conflicting ideas but that does not mean you should engage in the compromise fallacy. How do I reinforce behavioral standards if my colleagues won’t? How to I teach a maths concept that challenges students when my peers can’t see the point because they don’t UNDERSTAND. What do I do when asked how I am using learning styles? Or about individual SMART targets that can swallow a lesson whole? Or why I haven’t spent all night writing witness statements because I deemed reflection, reading planning questioning more important.

      Unusually I took your post rather personally, but after re-reading I think you might just be on the cusp. The debate is frustrating and annoying, even distracting at times. It is also necessary. I had none of the problems above until I made my mind up and realized it was different to those around me.

  13. learningsomemore April 10, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Having taught in primary and early years for over 20 years, constantly researching the most effective methods to have the greatest impact for all, I have come to the conclusion
    you need both: balance is the key; new knowledge needs to be taught and retained; acquired knowledge needs to be used and played with. Maybe if we looked at educationa as being ‘human’ centred rather than ‘child’ centred or not, we could move beyond this weary debate and use science holistically, rather than in isolation, to move our education system into the 21st century, as the medical profession are doing too. ( please don’t berate me for using the terms holistic and 21st century).

    • David Didau April 10, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      House!

    • jameswilding April 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Love that; human centred works for me too.

    • Michael Pye April 10, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      How do you use science holistically or in isolation? If a failure to relate the findings of one area/field/approach with another is made then we just need to acknowledge that it is bad science and needs to improve. This is an issue due to the volume of knowledge that we have and i was under the impression we are inching forward. the biggest issue seems to be the fact that when we tease basic findings out of the research they are simply ignored, as protecting feelings and philosophies is more important. This is a a general issue with science outside of education as well.

  14. […] methodologies, it’s an argument about the best way to achieve social justice. As I explained here, explicit approaches to education are more likely to close the gap between those who start life […]

  15. […] It may be true that “everything works somewhere and nothing works everywhere,” but if so it’s trivially true. Better to say, some things work in most contexts and other things rarely work anywhere. ‘Traditional’ approaches to the curriculum and instruction are better suited to achieving the ends most people value than ‘progressive’ ones. This is, I think, a social justice argument. […]

  16. […] this note, I’ve really appreciated recent works by Hirsch and David Didau for framing evidence-supported practices as best from a social-justice view. It’s a great […]

  17. […] David Didau wrote about ‘neo-progressivism’. His post summarises the traditionalists’ current critique of progressive education. Apparently, Didau […]

  18. […] on the Progressive Teacher blog, my case against ‘neo-progressivism‘ has been critiqued. This is much to be welcomed and I want to give the anonymous author the […]

  19. […] Neo-progressivism and the Alt-right […]

  20. […] Like everyone else, my intentions are good. As I said here, […]

Constructive feedback is always appreciated

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