Category Archives: learning

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

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 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

The Trouble with Transfer – my #rED16 slides

Today saw another triumphant outing for Tom Bennett’s grassroots conference, researchED. This year I ran a session investigating the research into how we transfer what we learn between different contexts, the slides

A conversation about the best way to teach a new concept

A few mornings ago, Rufus William got in touch with an interesting request: @LearningSpy fancy doing a quick maths activity? You just need something to write with some paper — Rufus (@RufusWilliam)

What are they learning?

Learning is never neutral. Although I have no empirical evidence, I’m pretty sure that it’s rare indeed for children – or indeed anyone – to learn nothing in a given situation. My contention

What every teacher needs to know about… rote learning

As per, here’s this month’s Teach Secondary column for you delight and edification. These days it is rare indeed for children to be taught much by rote, or, to use a less pejorative

Learning is liminal

I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move.

What’s the starting point for all learning?

“No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.” George Bernard Shaw UPDATED 7th February 6.30pm This morning in answer to a question about whether children