15 March 2007

On bandwagons

I have been contacted by someone who obviously knows that the blog exists, although I have no idea whether he has ever read it. He wants me to plug the conference which the header links to; I declined, but I'm doing it anyway. This is a great way to earn the opprobrium both of fans of the conference, for not endorsing it properly; and of opponents, for not simply ignoring it!

However! I'm actually mentioning it because of a phrase in the email commending it to me; "delegates have lots of opportunities to become inspired to try new ideas and leave with 'use it on Monday' materials!" Gee-whiz! This is two (quite expensive---£325 + VAT for the conference alone---and it's "not for profit"?) two days which will revolutionise attenders' teaching? What do these people know, and what can they impart in two days which teachers did not get in a year's PGCE training and another year's NQT mentoring, and a programme of CPD ever since (apologies to those of you not familiar with the initials, but you'll get the gist)?

No only do quick fixes not exist, but most claims to them back-fire. Remember "learning styles" and "multiple intelligences" and "accelerated learning"? You should, because they are still current. But what do such ideas actually do?
  • They declare that if teachers adjust to ever more variables in planning and fine-tuning their teaching (as if they ever could do any more than have broad-brush plans given all the variables which come into play when you get into the classroom) — then students will miraculously learn better!
  • And if students don't learn (sorry, "achieve") better, it is of course the fault of the teachers for not adopting this refined approach. (No way, of course, has it anything to do with the half-baked, untested and unresearched dogma underlying this snake-oil prescription.)
Forced to the choice, I'll go for prescribing fish-oil and better diet. The methodology of the "research" is just as flaky, but it has other spin-off benefits, it helps school meals staff feel valued (and even university catering staff—let's hear it for them!—they're brilliant and seriously under-valued) and even if it doesn't help with learning it protects joints and the cardio-vascular system. (I haven't checked out that research in detail, I confess, but I'll take the media reporting on trust for once.)

1 comment:

  1. Pulaski County Museum in Waynesville, Mo. is having an "Open House" on Saturday, 5 May. Hours will be 10am to 4 pm.


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