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Pedagogy for People

29th November 2013

It is now six months since @betsysalt made her impassioned plea in "What I wish teacher bloggers would write about more…” asking for more blogging on the practice of education, in context, with examples from actual practice, with actual children. Her disappointment was that the topics covered by teacher bloggers tended to concentrate on a narrow band of subjects and rarely offered real, tangible, ideas, recommendations and strategies from authentic experiences in the classroom. Her blog asked for more honesty, more humility, and more sharing: "perhaps most of all, can we hear about your mistakes. We all know failure is...

Links to blogs on marking

27th November 2013

About six weeks ago I started work on a blog for the October Blogsync "Marking with Impact", I thought it would be a quick piece, maybe a few hours work. My focus was on marking for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. However, once I got started I soon realised what a complex web of different strategies, purposes, and outcomes the subject is. As a consequence my blog (or blogs) are going to be a horribly late entry. Nevertheless, one advantage in being late is the opportunity it gives to read all the other blogs that have...

Dorothy Heathcote – Four models for teaching & learning

21st November 2013

There has been some interest over the past week in the work of Dorothy Heathcote (1926 - 2011). Heathcote left a great deal of writing stored in the Heathcote Archive at Manchester Met University some of which is available on the mantle of the expert website. Dorothy studied and wrote about drama in education for over sixty years and during that time her ideas changed and developed. She moved through various phases, creating and adapting new ideas as she went along. She described this work as a process of discovery and uncovering, and it has had a profound effect, both...

Answering some questions on mantle of the expert

16th November 2013

On 14th November the anonymous blogger 'Andrew Old' made some spurious accusations on Twitter about mantle of the expert being the next Brain Gym and being 'totally insane'. I tried to answer these allegations but Andrew strategically blocked my account and ignored my repeated offers to discuss his allegations. On Saturday 16th he wrote a blog where he accused teachers who use mantle of the expert of dodging the argument and refusing to answer his questions. Why Andrew did this remains a mystery. The following text is my reply to Andrew's blog, I have re-published it here to record the...

Chamber Theatre

10th November 2013

‘Exploring motivation at the moment of action’ Considerations regarding Robert Breen's Chamber Theatre in drama teaching. Luke Abbott President NATD May 29th 2014 Some further thoughts about the use of CT in Heathcote's dramatic inventions. I have been meaning to work with the Chamber Theatre (CT) technique invented by Robert Breen (1) for some time now but have only used its processes sporadically in my teaching so far. Actually 43 years. Being oblivious to Breen’s concepts, until 1982, I learned with Dorothy Heathcote how CT worked. Even then I dismissed it, as a rather quaint way of dissecting texts such...

Creating bridges into the past

21st October 2013

This article was published in Creative Teaching & Learning For a PDF copy click here - this is a much better version of the article as it contains the pertinent graphics and photographs Using a bridging device Of all the changes in the new National Curriculum the ones made to the programmes of study for history at Key Stage 2 are going to have the most significant effect on the way primary schools organise and plan their provision. For one reason the units of the history curriculum will have to be taught chronologically: From the Stone Age to Battle of...

Why learning and having fun are not inimical

10th October 2013

Of all the arguments I’ve read, from the plethora of education bloggers over the last year or so, the one I find hardest to get my head round is the supposed dichotomy between enjoyment and learning. Learning, it seems, is a very serious business and teachers who look to make their lessons fun are committing the cardinal sin of putting their student’s enjoyment ahead of knowledge acquisition and skills development. When I first read this argument I was a little perplexed and it took me a while to unpick the different strands. In so doing, I came to the conclusion...

The problem with praise

23rd September 2013

Two stories from home We have some film of Finn, our son, when he was a few months old. Claire and I are on our knees on the dining room floor, taking it in turns filming Finn as he makes his first tentative steps. Accompanying Finn’s unsteady movements are the sounds of laughter and joy, along with coos and chirps of encouragement. As Finn waddles towards the camera giggling, you can hear Claire and I saying things like, “Come on Finn… there you go… ooh, up you get.” Finally Finn finds his balance and takes a stumbling step forward, this...

Trivium: the answer to the purpose of education?

17th September 2013

“Enthusiasm is the search for essence… of intensity and work that is essential for high achievement. This is the idea of mastery: discipline, focus, work, beauty even in ugliness, truth, and the pursuit of in-depth knowledge. This is, perhaps, what Plato thought of as ‘being awake’” The Purpose of Education When thinking about the purpose of education it is easy to see how the wider aspirations of the state can clash with the more human concerns of students and their families. While government ministers focus on ‘measureable’ outcomes, league tables, and their latest position in the OECD rankings, parents are...

Imagination in History Teaching

12th September 2013

John Fines This essay is from the late historian and teacher, John Fines (1938 - 1999) Published posthumously in the International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research, 2002 I wish to consider the nature and function of imagination in the teaching of History, and I must confess straight away that this is not the first time I have attempted such a task. Indeed it is perhaps worthwhile admitting that I approach this essay with three largely different drafts behind me, and hope that in the writing they might consolidate themselves somehow into a more coherent picture. It may seem...

Some further planning for The Roman Box Unit: Boudicca & the Romans

10th September 2013

This planning is an additional sequence of steps for the Unit: The Roman Box In this sequence the children: draft & make a proclamation from the Roman Governor, create an Iceni settlement, organise daily tasks for different groups of people in the settlement represent the people in the settlement on the day the proclamation arrived discuss how to deal with the demands of the proclamation decide how to deal with an even bigger problem Stepping into the past: Boudicca and the Romans Resources: The painting of Vercingetorix Throws Down his Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar. A copy of...

Making learning urgent and important

9th September 2013

What is the purpose of school? I had been teaching for four years before I thought to ask my class what they thought was the purpose of school. The answers I got back where fairly predictable, “To get a good job when I’m older”; “To make more money”; “To learn more stuff”. These children were seven. The reason I asked them was because I had noticed, unless they found an activity useful or enjoyable, many of them tended to lose concentration, and become distracted and disengaged. As a consequence, I seemed to be spending a great deal of my time...

Planning for The Romans KS2 – Curriculum 2014

27th August 2013

This blog is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the magazine, Creative Teaching and Learning in Spring 2013 and is reprinted here with their kind permission. It outlines the first steps into an imaginative-inquiry context that could be used as a topic for a Key Stage 2 class studying the Roman invasions and settlement. The full planning for this Unit can be found on the Planning section of our website. I have updated it for this blog, including the new Programmes of Study for Curriculum 2014. This unit, The Roman Box, uses the mantle of the...

Thirteen things I try to remember at the start of a new year

26th August 2013

1. Learn the children's names as quickly as you can - use mnemonics and include the students in the process. Ask for their help. 2. Share your thinking with them - ask them about the layout of the room, the resources, the tables etc. Its their place of work as well as yours. 3. Set clear expectations and explain why. "This is a place for learning, there's a lot of us and if its going to work well then we all have to do our bit." 4. Include yourself - "I'll remind you if you forget and I'll do my...

Some thoughts on the Canon

16th August 2013

This post is in response to @debrakidd and the very interesting discussion that followed. It was originally intended as a comment, but grew too long and became a blog. The Canon, in the sense of: “A list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality” - has always seemed to be the province of those who might be described as conservatives (with a small c) or traditionalists. Those on the left or progressives have tended to dismiss the Canon as a list of ‘dead-white-men’. Here is a video of two academic white-men from either side...

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