I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken. – Oliver Cromwell
I haven’t been posting much lately but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy writing. I’m delighted to tell you I’ve now finished my new book and wanted to take the opportunity to share the contents before it’s listed on Amazon the whole thing is inevitably cheapened by sales figures.
In it I pose the question, What if everything you know about education is wrong? Just to be clear, I’m not saying you, or anyone else is wrong, I’m just asking you to consider the consequences of being wrong.
The book is structured in 4 parts. In Part 1 I try to persuade you that we are all prone to making mistakes and often get things wrong by outlining some of the thinking traps we routinely fall into. I then talk through some of the things that I have caused my the most grief over the past year or so: the purposes of education, compromise, the ‘false’ dichotomy, and the problems with the whole evidence charabanc.
Then, in Part 2 I suggest some ways of thinking about education which may be new or surprising for some teachers. I suggest that these ways of thinking are threshold concepts which are difficult to grasp but fundamentally change the way we think about education. Drawing on the working of Robert Bjork, Graham Nuthall and Meyer and Land, I discuss the concept of learning from two different perspectives: learning vs performance, and liminality. I offer a tripartite definition which suggests that ‘learning’ should include three important qualities: retention, transfer and change. Living in an edublogging bubble as I do, I sometimes forget these ideas are not at all widely known. (I spent the day talking to teachers in Belfast today and was surprised that none of them had come across Carol Dweck!)
In Part 3 I synthesise some the research I’ve been reading to offer some practical strategies for adjusting teaching to try to ensure students retain what we teach, are able to use it in new contexts and are changed by it.
Finally in Part 4 I suggest some other areas in education about which we may have been mistaken. These include assessment for learning, lesson observation, metacognition, mindsets, independent learning, differentiation, motivation and behaviour.
I’m also exceedingly grateful for the contributions of Jack Marwood and Andrew Sabisky. Jack has written a magisterial demolition of the way we use data in schools and Andrew has elegantly debunked a series of the most enduring edu-myths about intelligence.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with myself. This is by far the best thing I’ve written and I hope is that it proves useful to both teachers and policy makers. The manuscript has to pass through copy editing but I hope it will be available some time next spring.