The trouble with transfer: How can we make learning more flexible?

I define learning as the long-term retention of knowledge and skills and the ability to transfer between contexts. The retention bit is fairly straightforward and uncontroversial: if you can’t remember something tomorrow, can you

The feedback continuum: why reducing feedback helps students learn

The effects of feedback are more complex than we often realise. While expertise and mastery is unlikely to develop without feedback it’s certainly not true to say that giving feedback results in expertise

Robots, evolution and why schools shouldn’t worry about innate skills

It should come as little surprise to hear that some of what human beings can do is innate. That is to say, we are born with various capacities and abilities which appear

How to observe a lesson

Recently, I was asked by a school to give some feedback on their lesson observation pro forma. My advice was that they shouldn’t use it. They were a bit flummoxed (and probably

Call and response

Over the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time visiting schools to talk about literacy. One of my stock nuggets of advice is that it’s worth spending lesson time scaffolding

On gimmicks

What is a gimmick? The dictionary defines it as “a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade.” So, putting a cartoon tiger on a packet of breakfast cereal in order

Why Ofsted inspectors shouldn’t give advice

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent Learning First conference in Wolverhampton, but I did manage to follow some of the tweets. This one in particular caught my attention: Marilyn Mottram

Why mini-plenaries are a waste of time

Plenary is an interesting word. It originally meant absolute, without reservation or qualification. The pope used to offer plenary indulgences to crusaders absolving them in advance of any sin they committed in

Is our behaviour a choice?

Arguments about free will date back to ancient Greece, but the scientific consensus now tends towards the belief that free will is an illusion. It’s become an article of faith in the life

What causes the gender gap in education?

In the 1940s the Belgian philosopher Albert Michotte identified our tendency to believe we could see causality. His book, The Perception of Causality, published in French in 1945 showed how certain very simple

Better teaching through chemistry?

One of my favourite books of last year was Yuval Noah Harari’s magnificent Sapiens. It looks like his new tome, Homo Deus, is going to be just as fascinating if the rest of

What’s the job of a teacher?

One of the sessions I attended at researchED last Saturday was a debate on whether there really is a mental health crisis amongst young people. There were lots of interesting points made