Tom Bennett

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Getting culture right Part 1: Normative messages

2017-08-02T15:25:28+01:00August 2nd, 2017|behaviour, psychology|

If you want to change anything within a school, culture is crucial. As Tom Bennett argues in Creating a Culture: How school leaders can optimise behaviour, culture is "the way we do things round here". His advice to school leaders is to purposely design the culture you want in your school and then work hard to communicate your vision so that it becomes something that lives in the minds of everyone within the school community. Easy to say, hard to do. Any attempt to change culture has to start with acknowledging and then shifting what's considered socially normal. If the social norm [...]

When is it worth arguing about bad ideas?

2015-12-08T19:09:09+00:00December 7th, 2015|Featured|

Argue with idiots, and you become an idiot. Paul Graham Trying to identify and inoculate yourself against bad ideas is always worthwhile, but trying to set others strait is a thankless, task. And maybe a pointless one too. A good deal of what we believe to be right is based on emotional feedback. We are predisposed to fall for a comforting lie rather than wrestle with an inconvenient truth. And we tend to be comforted by what’s familiar rather than what makes logical sense. We go with what ‘feels right’ and allow our preferences to inform our beliefs. If we’re asked [...]

Is it just me or is Sugata Mitra an irresponsible charlatan?

2016-09-28T17:57:14+01:00November 23rd, 2015|myths|

Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power. Ralph Waldo Emerson When I first saw physicist, Sugata Mitra speak about his Hole in the Wall experiments in India I was astonished. Not only was he as  self-deprecatingly warm and funny as Sir Ken Robinson on a major charm offensive, the content of what he was saying blew any of SKR's woolly rhetoric out of the water. Basically, his claim was, is, that children can teach themselves anything. All they need is access to the internet and teachers to stay the heck away [...]

researchED English & Literacy Conference

2015-07-08T20:37:09+01:00July 1st, 2015|English, research|

A few months ago I asked Tom Bennett if he'd be up for rubberstamping some sort of rEDx project (like TEDx but with brains) devoted to exploring the intersection between education research and English teaching and he came back, quick as a flash, with the suggestion that I organise an actual researchED spinoff. So, under the steadying hand and watchful eye of Helene Galdon-O'Shea, I have. When? Saturday 7th November 2015 Where? Swindon Academy (which is also where I'll be working next year.) What? The theme of the conference is exploring the intersection between 'what works' according to the research community [...]

So, what does 'gifted' mean anyway?

2013-06-14T21:27:59+01:00June 14th, 2013|Featured, myths|

As you may be aware, non-selective secondary schools are failing the 'most able'. How do we know? Because a brand new Ofsted report tells us so. The report's key findings include such revelations as the fact that "expectations of what the most able students should achieve are too low" and  that not enough has been done "to create a culture of scholastic excellence" which leads, unsurprisingly, to, "Many students become used to performing at a lower level than they are capable of." The problem is attributed to ineffective transition arrangements, poor Key Stage 3 curricula and early entry to GCSE exams. [...]

Thinking like a writer

2013-07-19T10:48:34+01:00June 4th, 2013|English, Featured, writing|

How do we get better at writing? By writing. The advice I always give to students to improve their writing is to write. Often. Everyday if possible. This might be a private diary entry, an Amazon review, an essay or, even better: a public blog post which someone might actually read. For years now I've been in the habit of writing with my students; whenever they have a controlled assessment to write or a question to answer, I do the work too. Apart from the desire to build a sense of solidarity, I started doing this to model the thinking required [...]

Grit vs Flow – what's better for learning?

2013-03-04T23:14:42+00:00March 4th, 2013|Featured, myths|

At least it wasn't Brain Gym! Bugger! Having just put up a new classroom display exhorting the benefits of 'flow' and using the idea in training materials, I have just had this thrust in front of my slack jawed face by my new bête noire, Alex Quigley! (NB: this is not true - Alex is a thoroughly decent chap, and a man I admire greatly.) I've been fascinated by the idea of 'flow' since reading Mihály Csíkszentmihályi's book some years ago. The idea is that if you're totally immersed in the experience of performing a task you will perform it [...]

Awards season

2011-11-19T22:28:25+00:00November 19th, 2011|Featured|

Being as I'm still very new to this blogging game (was it only July I made my first post?) I had no idea there were awards for it, let alone awards for educational blogging. Who knew? Well, apparently lots of people knew: the Edublogs Awards have been going on since 2004. I've only been alerted to this thanks to Kristian Stills generous nomination of the The Learning Spy. Which is lovely. But before I getting too carried away practising acceptance speeches, I thought that this would be a fine opportunity to do a bit of nominating myself. So, my nomination for [...]