In 2011, frustrated by the current state of education I began to blog. Since then I have expressed the constraints and irritations of ordinary teachers, detailed the successes and failures of my classroom and synthesized my 15 years of teaching experienced through the lens of education research and cognitive psychology.
So, what have I done with all this influence?
Well, I started listening. In 2014 I consulted on the Inspection Handbook and made a commitment to common sense and practical humanity which has resulted in lesson observation grades being scrapped and inspectors asked to ‘look at’ classroom practice and ask questions, rather than ‘look for’ preferred methodologies.
I’ve also spent a lot of time working in schools to improve the way teachers approach students’ literacy. The Secret of Literacy, urged teachers to ‘make the implicit explicit’. Teachers are highly literate but often have little idea how they are able to do what they do. Often teachers just assume students can do what they can do. Breaking down and codifying what teachers are able to do, allow them to teach reading and writing more effectively.
My new book, What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Psychology is out shortly.
Is our education system right? Explores the idea that much of what happens in schools is based on unexamined assumptions. My most important insight is, contrary to our intuitions, learning is invisible. All we can see is what students can do and from that we infer what they might have learned. But students’ performance turns out to be a very poor proxy for predicting long-term retention and the ability to transfer skills and concepts between different contexts. This simple observation is well supported by research evidence and classroom observations, but widely ignored in education. If true, many of the sacred cows of teaching are in doubt. The ways teachers teach, curriculums are organized and teachers held to account might all rest on a misapprehension of how learning happens. In the book, I suggest how we might go about rethinking education in order to realign schools with how children actually.
As well as being a freelance writer, speaker and trainer, I am also running the English Studies modules. If you’d like to book me to deliver training or speak at a conference, please email me or contact me via Contact Us.