Blog

Thoughts on a TES ad

29th January 2017

While reading the fervent exchanges on EdTwitter surrounding the advert in the TES for a ‘Director of Detention’, I am reminded of the argument made by Jonathon Haidt in his book, ‘The Righteous Mind’. Haidt proposes good people are divided by politics and religion. We all have moral ‘taste buds’ which go a long way to guiding our responses to any particular issue, particularly ones that violently clash with or closely align with our own internal morality. He describes the moral mind as being “like a tongue with six taste receptors” - care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression. These...

The Paradox of Mantle of the Expert: “How can children be experts?”

24th January 2017

Tim Taylor This extract is from, "A Beginner's Guide to Mantle of the Expert" On the face of it Mantle of the Expert seems to involve a paradox: how can we expect children to be experts when they know so little? Doesn’t being an expert require long years of dedicated study, experience, and reflective practice? Won’t asking children to think and act like experts be a silly pretence and a waste of valuable teaching time? This is a serious objection and if you are intending to use Mantle of the Expert you need to be clear in your own mind...

Using a painting to start an inquiry

16th January 2017

Over the weekend I read an excellent blog by Harry Fletcher-Wood called, ‘Starting a Lesson With Initial Stimulus Material’. Harry’s blog got me thinking about how I use images with students as a way to generate thinking, grab their interest, and communicate knowledge. This blog is my response. Harry uses three examples of images to illustrate his approach; the second is this one of Henry VII. Harry suggests we could start by asking the students to make inferences: “What can you tell about Henry VII from this painting?” He calls this a ‘classic starter’ but warns of its limitations, “…examples...

Some background on Mantle of the Expert

2nd October 2016

This article was originally published in the BERA blog, 'Research Matters'. Dorothy Heathcote died in October 2011 at the age of 85. Although an academic for most of her life, first at Durham and then at Newcastle, Heathcote continued to teach in classrooms almost up until the year she died. For her, teaching was an art, practised in the “service of a process of change” where classrooms are “laboratories… contributing to the welfare of the local community and the environment.” She hated the idea that schooling denied children social status, requiring them “to feel useless, to exist in a limbo...

‘Ways to use Pokemon Go in the Classroom’ – The wrong answer to the right question

18th September 2016

This weekend an EdTwitter discussion (some might call it a spat) broke out along the usual Trad v Prog lines after Carl Hendrick drew everyone’s attention to a website called ‘Ways to use Pokemon Go in the Classroom’. During the conversation I found myself falling out with nearly everyone, which was a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to write a blog as an attempt to explain my thinking. I want to start by saying as clearly as I can, while I am criticising the content of the plans on the Pokemon website I am in no way attacking the teachers...

Vikings

17th September 2016

Author: Tim Taylor Theme: Vikings Age Range: KS2 Main curriculum focus: History - the Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor Inquiry Questions: What was distinct about Viking culture? What were their beliefs and how did these affect their view of the world? Expert Team: Scriptwriters Client: BBC Commission: To write the outline of a script for the BBC telling the story of a Viking burial site discovered recently in rural England. In this context the students learn about the discovery of a Viking burial tomb hidden inside a hill in rural...

Is research-based classroom practice realistic and is it desirable?

30th August 2016

On Thursday myself and several other twitter folk were invited to Optimus HQ to discuss the role of research in education. In preparation for the meeting I wrote a short blog trying to capture some of my current thinking on the subject... Is research-based classroom practice realistic? For me there has always been a fundamental problem with the idea of research in education. In the late-90s I got very interested in research and became involved in various projects, some in collaboration with the Centre For Applied Research in Education at the UEA, some independently. I attend BERA conferences and started...

A Brief Introduction to Mantle of the Expert

29th April 2016

Mantle of the Expert is an education approach that uses imaginary contexts to generate purposeful and engaging activities for learning. Within the fiction the students are cast as a team of experts working for a client on a commission. The commission is designed by the teacher to generate tasks and activities that fulfil the requirements of the client as well as create opportunities for students to study wide areas of the curriculum. For example, a class of students are cast (within the fiction) as a team of archaeologists excavating an Egyptian tomb for the Cairo Museum. To complete the commission...

Indiana Jones and the Pragmatic Teacher

23rd April 2016

There is a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark[1] where Indiana Jones runs into a bazaar in pursuit of the Nazis who have kidnapped his ‘girlfriend’. Looking this way and that, he jumps up onto a cart full of straw to get a better view, but there is no sign of them and with a heavy sigh, frustrated and hot, he jumps back down. At that moment the crowd parts to reveal a six foot five sword-wielding assassin, dressed from head to foot in black. Smiling manically, the assassin twirls his scimitar from one hand to the other, inviting...

A way out of the Traditionalist v Progressivist dichotomy

20th April 2016

[caption id="attachment_900" align="alignleft" width="240"] Engraving (by C.H. Barbant, 1800s) shows French revolutionary Georges Jacques Danton (1759 - 1794) (center) as he definantly looks over the crowd as he climbs the steps to his execution by guillotine for conspiracy to overthrow the government during the French Revolution, Paris, France, April 5, 1794. He is watched by fellow condemned prisoner Camille Desmoulins (1760 - 1794) (born Lucie Simplice Camille Benoist Desmoulins) (left) and a number of armed soldiers.[/caption] After the execution of Louis XVI a vacuum opened up at the heart of French revolution. Parties who had once been united in opposition...

Earl of Shaftesbury and the Pit Investigation Team

5th February 2016

If you spend any time driving around rural Norfolk you are bound to come across a number of Victorian school buildings. Some will have been converted into pretty homes, with roses growing up their redbrick walls, while others still serve their original purpose. They were built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century in the years following the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which made it obligatory for parishes to provide a basic level of schooling for all their children between the ages of five and thirteen. The urge for reform had been growing rapidly since the 1830s led...

Student Engagement: not worth the trouble or critical to learning?

23rd January 2016

As a teacher, this question really bothers me. It’s the one that gets me most animated on EdTwitter, the one I can’t pass up, the one I find myself gnawing on long after the conversation has finished. Genuinely I can’t understand why people think it’s not important; how can it not be? Bored people don’t learn, especially bored little people. I’ve seen it time and again: that moment when a child’s eyes switch off and their mind disappears to another place. For those who can, they still ‘look’ like they’re interested, for others the strain is too much and their...

Drama for Learning and Mantle of the Expert

13th January 2016

Mantle of the Expert doesn't use drama to perform for others, to 'act out' stories or to role-play scenarios. Rather, it uses drama as a means of creating imaginary contexts for learning (dinosaur islands, medieval castles, fairy-tale worlds, Victorian mines), making the curriculum accessible, meaningful and engaging for students. Drama media — theatre, film and television — uses a range of dramatic conventions in various forms. Some are simple, like the voice-over in Blade Runner, giving us access to the main character's thoughts and emotions. Others are more sophisticated, such as Scrooge's door-knocker that comes to life as Marley's ghost...

Introducing #paintingstalk

20th July 2015

Things can happen fast on EdTwitter. Last night at 22:19 I tweeted...     ...and by 23:16 #paintingstalk was a thing. Here's how it works. - Sunday night a volunteer chooses a painting for discussion on the following Tuesday at 20:00 GMT. - They post it on Twitter using the #paintingstalk hashtag. - They post a blog within 24 hours saying why they chose the painting and including some links for research. - Tuesday at 20:00 we discuss the painting. - People might continue to chat about it for the rest of the week. - The following Sunday it's Storified...

Visit to Ofsted – May 18th 2015

18th May 2015

Sean Harford is a nice man. Which considering the job he does, and the way most of us in education feel about Ofsted, is quite a shock. A bit like fighting your way to the top most tower of Barad Dur only to discover the Mouth of Sauron is… Simon Mayo. Which, of course, is not at all fair. Ofsted Towers, despite having the sandstone façade of a Victorian church, is not a Temple of evil (read Alan Moore’s “From Hell” if you want to get this joke) and those who work there are not servants of the Dark Lord....

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