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Action research: how can we turn around our students’ experiences in the classroom so they reflect the humanistic values we believe in?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 November 2020

Pete Wright.

Ever since I first walked into a classroom in an Inner London comprehensive as a student teacher in 1986, my primary aim, like many other new entrants to the profession, was to  make a difference to children’s lives. Maybe, even if in only some small way, I could change society for the better.

That’s why I’m so pleased about the publication of a special feature of the London Review of Education which focuses on the potential of action research to promote an empowering school curriculum. As guest editor, I am excited about seeing the fruits of many months of labour by the twenty-six authors, reviewers and others who have worked with me. But the publication will also have a deeper significance for me as I reflect on over 30 years of experience working within the education system.

I am fortunate to have spent most of my educational career (as classroom teacher, curriculum coordinator, head of department, curriculum developer, local authority consultant and now teacher educator) working closely with other teachers. I am struck by how many teachers share the humanistic vision of education (more…)

A word to the wise: what does it mean to be an educated school-leaver?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 January 2019

 
IOE Events.
Through our What if… debates we have endeavoured to tackle the big, longstanding debates in education. This month we took on perhaps the biggest of them all: ‘knowledge vs skills’. Recent commentaries have brought greater nuance to the question of whether the school curriculum should focus on building knowledge or on developing skills (or whether they are inextricable). Nevertheless, contrasting views persist on what the school curriculum should deliver.
We started with the question of how best to develop well-prepared and well-rounded school leavers. This meant looking at how the school curriculum can cultivate pupils’ knowledge, but also their understanding,  as well as other desirable dispositions and attributes, such as empathy and good judgement – qualities that when taken together might confer wisdom. What if…, as the title of the event went, our main objective in education was to build wisdom?
To tackle this question (more…)

Questioning the curriculum: here's to Michael Young's next 50 years at the IOE

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 November 2017

Geoff Whitty. 
Last week the IOE celebrated Professor Michael Young’s 50 years at the IOE and the publication of a festschrift in his honour. I was one of a number of colleagues asked to speak at the event.  Having cancelled my flight to Australia to do so I thought I would be able to say that, as the result of the fare penalty, I was the only person who had actually paid to be there.  But in fact there were other people attending from overseas, which just goes to show the high esteem in which Michael is held throughout the world.
I haven’t known Michael quite 50 years – more like 49.  It would have been in October 1968 when I arrived at the IOE as a PGCE student training to be a history teacher, and Michael was one of a group of sociologists who inspired me to see my own future as a sociologist. His particular contribution was in encouraging us to question much of (more…)

What knowledge should we teach the next generation? the most important question in education

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 September 2017

Alex Standish writes a letter to beginning teachers.  
Dear Beginning Teachers,
The school curriculum is about what knowledge to teach the next generation. There is no more important question in education. It is the main reason why children go to school – to learn interesting and valuable knowledge about the world, its natural systems, its human systems, cultures, arts, languages and how the world has changed. This way they can be a part of conversations about its future.
The reason you as a teacher stand in an authoritative relationship to pupils is that you have some knowledge to teach them and you are learning how to communicate ideas and skills with pupils. This is not to dismiss the significance of pedagogy, how children learn and the personal knowledge and experiences they bring to the classroom. Rather, to become a successful teacher depends upon understanding the respective roles of each. And, the curriculum – what to teach – is logically prior to how to teach it.
So, how do we know what goes into a curriculum? How do we know what knowledge (more…)

Children are analogue beings navigating a digital world

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 March 2017

 
Sandra Leaton Gray
If you are a child today, you live your life almost completely in the public domain. Your baby photographs might be on Facebook before the first nappy change. By the time you start primary school, you will have appeared on at least a dozen local and national Government databases, and various commercial organisations will have been sold your details, targeting your parents for years with invitations to buy you consumer goods and products. Your movements around the local area will be tracked on CCTV.
When you arrive in secondary school, your digital footprint will intensify. You will be uploading materials to the Internet via your mobile phone or your bedroom computer. You will have a number of online profiles, some more secret than others. Homework will be submitted online via third party servers, some of which may be in countries with weak, cloud-based data protection policies. By the time you are 18, your digital footprint will be enormous, and even though there is ‘right to be forgotten’ data protection legislation in (more…)

Harold Rosen’s 50-year-old revolutionary message: children bring a wealth of culture, language and experience to the classroom

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 March 2017

John Richmond .
Harold Rosen was a leader of thought in the world of English teaching in the second half of the twentieth century. He and his colleagues forged and sustained a new understanding of the purpose and possibilities of secondary school English. Beyond the constituency of secondary English, Harold’s teachings, writings and activities illuminated many more people’s understanding of the relationship between language and learning in any context, whatever the age of the learner and the content of the learning.
On 20 March, the UCL Institute of Education Press launches Harold Rosen: Writings on life, language and learning 1958-2008, which I have edited. This is a bringing-together of most of Harold’s (more…)

Let’s stand up for subjects

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 September 2014

Michael Young and David Lambert
Each curriculum subject contains a different way of understanding the world. Access to this ‘powerful knowledge’ for every pupil should form the basis for any curriculum. This is the central argument of our new book, Knowledge and the Future School: Curriculum and Social Justice, which we have written in collaboration with secondary headteacher Carolyn Roberts and former head Martin Roberts.
The book engages directly with and moves beyond the increasingly sterile debate between the former Secretary of State, Michael Gove, with his ticklists of facts, and those of his vociferous antagonists in the education community who argue that process is far more important than content. (more…)