The myth of progress

2015-05-10T14:25:04+01:00May 7th, 2015|Featured|

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. C. S. Lewis We tend to believe that things are getting better, that mankind is on a journey to some perfect state in which irrationality will be banished. This belief shapes and distorts our thinking. Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection is often interpreted as meaning that random biological mutations, which are then inherited and selected as being most fit for the context in which [...]

Where lesson observations go wrong

2015-12-16T11:49:39+00:00July 12th, 2013|Featured, training|

UPDATE: Since writing this post in July 2013 a lot has happened. Ofsted has stopped grading individual lessons and many schools have recognised the futility and harm caused by lesson grading. Here is my most recent post on the subject. Can we define an outstanding lesson? No. I get asked this regularly, and I've really tried. But I don't think it's possible. I can describe a specific example of a lesson which was judged as outstanding, but that really isn't helpful for three reasons. 1) Stand alone lessons don't provide evidence of much except the performance of the teacher and the students [...]

Deliberately difficult – why it's better to make learning harder

2013-06-10T20:24:17+01:00June 10th, 2013|Featured, learning, myths|

The most fundamental goals of education are long-term goals. As teachers and educators, we want targeted knowledge and skills to be acquired in a way that makes them durable and flexible. More specifically, we want a student’s educational experience to produce a mental representation of the knowledge or skill in question that fosters long-term access to that knowledge and the ability to generalize—that is, to draw on that knowledge in situations that may differ on some dimensions from the exact educational context in which that knowledge was acquired. Robert A Bjork, 2002 Who could argue with this? Certainly not Ofsted who [...]

The problem with progress Part 3: Designing lessons for learning

2014-05-25T18:20:25+01:00February 16th, 2013|Featured, learning, planning, SOLO|

Over my last couple of posts I've suggested that you can't see learning in lessons, you can only infer it from students' performance. This means that as a teacher, when you get students to respond to exit passes, signal with traffic lights and otherwise engage in formative assessment what you see are merely cued responses to stimuli. What I mean by that is that the tasks we set students to check whether they've learned what we've taught only tell us how they are performing at that particular time and in those particular circumstances; they offer no indication whether the feckless buggers [...]

The problem with progress Part 2: Designing a curriculum for learning

2021-11-19T09:27:05+00:00February 14th, 2013|Featured, leadership, learning, myths, planning|

Can progress be both rapid and sustained? We start out with the aim of making the important measurable and end up making only the measurable important. Dylan Wiliam Does slow and steady win the race? 'Rapid and sustained progress' is Ofsted's key indictor for success. Schools across the land chase this chimera like demented puppies chasing their own tails. But just when when you think you've gripped it firmly between your slavering jaws, the damn thing changes and slips away. You see, the more I look into it, the more I'm convinced that progress cannot be both rapid and sustained. You cannot [...]

The problem with progress Part 1: learning vs performance

2014-03-27T18:49:16+00:00February 12th, 2013|Featured, learning, myths|

What's more important? Learning or progress? Take that progress! We want learning We've known since the publication of Ofsted's Moving English Forward in March last year that demonstrating progress is not the be all and end all of an inspector's judgments, but just in case anyone was in any doubt, Kev Bartle has forensically scoured Ofsted's Inspection Handbook and come to these damning conclusions. He unequivocally states that,"There is no such thing as progress within lessons. There is only learning" before going on to say: Even Ofsted (the big organisation but sadly not always the individual inspectors or inspection teams) realise that ‘progress’ is [...]

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