January 2016

31st January – Some assumptions about scripted lessons In which I deal with some of the most predictable assumptions pertaining to scripted lessons.

31st January – Scripts: whose lesson is it anyway? Might scripting ‘perfect’ lessons be a good idea?

30th January – Proof of progress – Part 1 First in a series of posts about the process of using Comparative Judgement.

29th January – Ouroboros: a review My review of Greg Ashman’s book.

28th January – John Hattie and the magical power of prediction In which I explore Hattie’s confusion about ‘self-reported grades’.

28th January – A definition of learning As I keep getting asked what I mean by learning, it seemed like a good idea to have a post dedicated to my definition.

27th January – Is it a ‘sin’ to tell teachers how to teach? No. Sometimes it’s fine.

25th January – What’s the difference between character and personality? Personality is an elusive concept but character is probably worse.

24th January – Why ‘mastery learning’ may prove to be a bad idea Mastery learning sounds great but what do we actually mean?

23rd January – Is it what you do or the way that you do it? Whilst it might be true that you can do anything well, something are inherently better than others.

11th January – Big data is bad data When it comes to analysing data maybe less is more.

9th January – What every teacher needs to know about… Edtech In which I conclude that technology is great but ‘edtech’ is a bit crap.

5th January – Can anyone teach? Well, that depends on what you think education is for An exploration of the idea that anyone can teach.

2nd January – Varieties of boredom How and why some varieties of boredom might not be a bad thing but others are dreadful.

1st January – New Year’s resolutions for teachers and school leaders Make this year better than last!

December 2015

30th December – Phonics is not a cure for cancer – Shock! Horror! All phonics is good for is teaching children to decode. But it’s better than anything else at doing that.

29th December – Only phonics? A reader replies to Michael Rosen Part 2 – these two posts address some of the most persistent complaints from phonics denialists about how to teach children to decode print. Basically, unless decoding is fluent, automatic and effortless, children will never read for pleasure.

28th December – Reading for pleasure: A reader replies to Michael Rosen Part 1

26th December – My five favourite blogs of 2015 – does what it says on the tin.

24th December – On fragility: why systems fail – If I’d read Antifragile before writing the previous post it would definitely have made the list.

20th December – The most interesting books I read this year – a list of 10 of the most enjoyable and influential books I read in 2015.

16th December – Why I like ‘tick n flick’ – Teachers daubing students’ exercise books has had a bad rap for as long as I can remember. But why?

13th December – Outstanding is the enemy of good – Maybe good is good enough. And maybe outstanding is actually a bit crap.12th December –

12th December – Student voice: windmills of the mind – Another item to add to the bonfire of dubious ideas.

11th December – Good writing Part 1: Rubrics warp teaching and assessment I aways intended to write a second part to this but as yet I haven’t been bothered. Basically, any attempt to pre-define what good looks like will miss important elements and lead to cargo cult teaching & learning.

10th December – Cargo cult teaching, cargo cult learning – So much of what we do in teacher follows the form and structure of ‘best practice’ with very little understanding of why such practices might be considered ‘best’.

9th December – One more thing I want from school leaders – In November I wrote a list of the qualities I most desired in school leaders. Somewhat greedily, I added one more attribute in this post.

7th December –  When is it worth arguing about bad ideas? Not as often as I might have thought. It’s always worth pointing out bad ideas (as well as suggesting more sensible alternatives) but, increasingly, I can’t be bothered to argue the toss with those dedicated to foolishness.

6th December – Why I struggle with learning objectives and success criteria This became one of my most read posts this year. It never fails to amaze me how something that starts off as a ‘good idea’ quickly becomes a matter of compulsion and morphs, inexorably, into a bad idea.

5th December – Is mimicry always a bad thing? Spoiler: no, it’s not.

3rd December – Marking: What (some) Ofsted Inspectors (still) want An expression of frustration at the continued inability of some Ofsted inspectors to free their minds from the shackles of bias, prejudice and personal preference.

3rd December – Why I ♥ blogging (and believe there is hope for Ofsted) An expression of satisfaction and relief that the upper echelons of Ofsted continue to see sense and strive mightily to whip recalcitrant inspectors into line.

3rd December – Discord isn’t disharmony: in praise of inconsistency ‘Consistency’ seems to have taken on the mantle of unanimous approval and become the latest in a long line of educational buzzwords, but what’s so great about every doing the same thing?

November 2015

30th November Opportunity knocks – but what does it want? An inquiry into what we can learn from economics

30th November Should students respond to feedback? – maybe not

28th November What I want from a school leader – humility, love, determination, vision & focus

26th November The problem with book monitoring – it’s too easy to look for stuff which makes no differnece

23rd November Is it just me or is Sugata Mitra an irresponsible charlatan? – it’s not just me

22nd November Workload, retention & accountability: One policy to rule them all – exit interviews – that’s it

21st November What every teacher needs to know about…Zero Tolerance – this month’s Teach Secondary column

20th November The Illusion of Knowing – the most I’ve ever been paid to write anything. Ever.

19th November Comparison is easy – some stuff I’ve being doing with the BBC

17th November Essay writing: style and substance – thesis statements, slaloming and nominalisation

15th November Rethinking assessment Part 2: the Einstellung effect – some reasons why we’re rele]uctant to accecpt it’s all about comparative judement

15th November Rethinking assessment Part 1: How can we tell if students are making progress? – It’s all about comparative judgement, innit

11th November In praise of dignity and justice – the parable of the crybully, the safe space and the victim

9th November How to deal with criticism My impatience at people who really ought to know better whining about being criticised

9th November If writing is magic, grammar is alchemy – me trolling Michael Rosen

8th November Using threshold concepts to think about curriculum design – my attempt to ruin the researchEd Englsih & Literacy gig in Swindon

5th November We don’t know what we don’t know: the uses of humility – I’m a big fan of humility. In fact, I think it’s possibly the number 1 leadership quality

4th November Tests don’t kill people – standardised tests are great but they seem to cause people to behave stupidly

3rd November Five techniques for overcoming overconfidence & improving decision-making – more wisdom from messrs Kahneman & Klein

October 2015

31st October In praise of signposts – Rather than being worried about the fact that teachers don’t trawl though lengthy research papers looking for caveats to the main findings we should celebrate the clear signpost which are emerging from education research.

30th October The closed circle: Why being wrong is so useful – Critique is how we make progress. When someone points out our mistakes we can adjust and improve. But if you refuse to allow the possibility that you might be mistaken you will never learn.

24th October  Is growth mindset pseudoscience? The jury is still out, but I continue to be sceptical of the promise of the growth mindset and argue that Dweck’s latest permutation – the false growth mindset – might make here theory unfalsifiable.

24th October From Scared Straight to Reading Wrong – How we ignore evidence when it is at odds with our preferred beliefs.

23rd October Is school a straightjacket? A response to David Aaronovitch –Aaronovitch, like many uninformed commentators, has been seduced by the easy lure of Ken Robinson & Sugata Mitra. Here I attempt to set him straight.

18th October How can we teach problem-solving? A rare post about maths. Here I suggest that problem solving depends on knowing a lot of maths as well as the learned experience of struggling with difficult problems.

13th October Assessment: evolution vs. design Might the iterative process of evolution be a better way for us to approach post-levels assessment systems?

12th October Heads I’m right, tails I’m not wrong – The contortions we go through to reduce cognitive dissonance can sometimes be hilarious for onlookers. But the consequences are far from funny. In this piece I acknowledge Daisy Chistodoulou’s criticism and fess up to making a mistake about assessment.

12th October Is teaching a ‘wicked’ game? More thoughts on the limitations of teacher judgement: a wicked domain is one in which we don’t receive useful feedback about how to improve, so we don’t.

11th October “Works for me!” The problem with teachers’ judgement The problem with relying on teachers’ judgement is that, despite what we intuitively believe, it doesn’t tend to be all that good. Here I discuss the importance of falsifiability as a way of refining our judgements.

9th October What every teacher needs to know about ’21st-Century learning’ This is my regular column forTeach Secondary magazine. This time I take a swipe at the 21st Century learning trope.

8th October Equality is unfair If we treat all teachers equally we will be treating them unfairly. Fairness is more important than equality.

6th October The melody of education: what should we be accountable for? If teachers and schools are to be held accountable then is should be for something which we all agree is important. In his book,Education is Upside Down, Eric Kalenze suggests the aim of education should be that “students able to find fulfilment in – and contribute to the improvement of – the world outside the school.”

6th October #researchED comes to Swindon – a trail for the wonderful secondary English & literacy conference organised for 7th November.

5th October What can education learn from aviation? – expanding on the intelligent accountability theme bu contrasting the way accountability works in education and in aviation.

4th October Intelligent Accountability – a manifesto for improving the ways in which teachers are held accountable in an attempt to support teachers in being good as opposed to looking good.

August/September 2015

30th September The Science of Learning  A promotion of the wonderfully concise Deans for Impact report.

27th September Could less marking mean more feedback?  – I think it could.

21st September A decreased focus on facts & knowledge won’t help either – Please can we stop moaning about children having to learn facts?

20th September A heck of a lot of posters  – This stirred up an unreasonable amount of controversy. Basically, if you don’t get that this isn’t about posters it’s about low expectations, you’ve missed the point.

19th September Marking and feedback are not the same  – They’re just not.

18th September Does technology have the power to transform education?  – Yes, of course it does. But not in the way that most people think.

17th September What is ‘transfer’ and is it important?  – My response to Greg Ashman’s ‘review of my book.

16th September Why sacrificing chickens will not help us evaluate teachers’ performance – The seductive power of numbers and why some school leaders love grading lessons.

15th September Why we *really* mistrust Ofsted – A response to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s profile in Schools Week.

14th September When should we stop making students redraft work? – Redrafting’s all very well, but when should it stop?

13th September The uses of disappointment – Why being a bit disappointed by our students’ efforts might be a good thing.

12th September Should we learn to love our shackles?  – A response to Dame Sally Coates ideas on curriculum and assessment.

11th September You can have a voice  – The power of social media and how I came to be the influential figure you see before you.

9th September Research vs evidence  – Some thoughts on the misuses of evidence.

6th September Pedagogy? I hate the word  – Are you a pedagogue or a teacher?

5th September Foxy Thinking: why we should embrace ignorance and learn to love uncertainty  – A summary of my presentation at researchED 2015

31st August What I mean by ‘relevance’  – On the mistakes teachers make when thinking about what’s relevant.

31st August See it, own it: how to destroy a school – My despair at some of the stupider attempts to bring order to the chaos that is a secondary school.

30th August Can we make learning permanent?  – Revisiting my experiences of speeding school and musings on how learning might be made stickier.

July 2015 

20 psychological principles for teachers

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

 March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

 December 2012

November 2012

 October 2012

September 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

7 Responses to Archive

  1. Davina Willson says:

    Hello David,

    Just wanted to say I stumbled across your website this morning whilst researching for an interview for a TLR position that involved CPD. Your website has offered so many useful links and strategies, I must personally say thank you! I am also an English teacher, and I teach in Essex. Looking forward to reading your book out in July! Make sure it is available on the Kindle!

    Best wishes,

  2. Shuping says:

    Hi David,
    I started to follow you on Twitter and just want to thank you for sharing your expertise so generously.The links are so helpful, too.

  3. […] in the life of an English teacher’ blog was an inspiration, leading me to explore his back-catalogue. Wow!  He was the first blogger I encountered that modeled genuine intellectual rigour with a bit […]

  4. […] A whole school approach to literacy (via Chris Hildrew) Developing oracy skills (via Shaun Allison) David Didau’s Literacy Archive (via David Didau) Connections between English and Maths (via Kris Boulton) Literacy Toolkit (via […]

  5. This certainly is one of the most comprehensive set of blogs I’ve come across, a real treasure. Enjoyed the series on planning. A must read for all teachers!

  6. […] Posts are arranged thematically rather than chronologically Biographical Now we are three 3rd July 2014 This is what I want 20th May 2014 This is who I am – 18th May 2014 This is what I think – 14th May 2014 InformED Interview: We can only guarantee success if we have low expectations 6th August 2013  […]

Constructive feedback is always appreciated

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