Why ‘grammar schools for all’ won’t work | David Didau

A better, but overlong, title for this would be “Why grammar schools don’t work for all and why ‘grammar schools for all’ (probably) won’t work”.

At the birth of the comprehensive school movement, prime minster Harold Wilson made his well-known rallying cry, “Grammar schools for all’! Every child, no matter their background, or academic potential could go to a school which would share the values of the selective Grammar schools. It was a lovely idea and, as we all know, it failed to materialise. The reality, for very many children, became secondary moderns for all. Of course Wilson was…

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Education and epidemiology | David Didau

Epidemiology is the science of trying to find out what makes people healthier. Epidemiologists look at data to identify causal links between improved health and other factors. It is a correlational science which means that it can never really prove a causal link it can only suggest that a connection between two or more variables is unlikely to be caused by chance.

Correlation is a tricksy business. Perfect correlations tend not to exists so the relationships epidemiologist find are always, to a greater or lesser extend, imperfect. No matter how clear a signal we think we’ve identified,…

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The promise and danger of neuroscience | David Didau

With the advent of increasingly inexpensive access to brain imaging technology, neuroscience has entered a fascinating period of rapid advancement. The ability to generate images of what’s going on in our brains is hugely exciting, and the enthusiasm for trying to apply this science to education should come as no surprise.

However, neuroscience is probably the ‘wrong level of description’ to provide meaningful insight into classroom practice: observing the actions of particular groups of neurons, or activity in various regions in the brain is a long way from teaching a classroom full of…

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What do teachers think differentiation is? | David Didau

In Why Knowledge Matters, ED Hirsch Jr sets out the case against differentiated instruction, saying, “the attempt to individualize the content of the language arts curriculum has been a quixotic idea that has put teachers under enormous pressure to achieve the impossible.” He explains further:

When a teacher is attending to the individual needs of one student  in a class of twenty, nineteen are not receiving the teacher’s attention. all sorts of techniques conspire to obscure that fact – group work, isolated seatwork on boring work sheets, and “independent study’ with choice of books from…

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Is “our knowledge” different from theirs? | David Didau

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

Over on the Progressive Teacher blog, my case against ‘neo-progressivism‘ has been critiqued. This is much to be welcomed and, as the anonymous author embraces rather than tries to deny that there is a debate, I want to give  the courtesy of a considered response.

In it, my position is described as follows: “students should acquire knowledge, then use that knowledge as an object for…

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A summary of my arguments about education | David Didau

And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, that one small head could carry all he knew. Oliver Goldsmith

A tradition without intelligence is not worth having. T. S. Eliot

The debate of ideas in education – and anywhere else – is essential if we want to improve the lot of children and society. Over the past 6 years of so I’ve learned such a lot from this back and forth and have, as well as becoming a good deal more knowledgeable, become a lot more adept at thinking critically about the ideas I encounter. My views have changed a great deal over this period and I thought that…

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The Great Education Debate | David Didau

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. Hubert H. Humphrey

With increasing frequency, someone will pop up on social media to announce to the world that debating the best way to approach the project of education is a waste of time. These are the reasons I’m typically presented with when I demur:

1. It’s boringly repetitive and nothing new is ever contributed.

2. It’s just a bun fight rather than an actual debate and no one ever changes their minds.

3. Real teachers in real schools don’t know anything about it so it obviously can’t be that important….

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