Teacher Workload – You’ll Need More Than A Bonfire Of Red Tape

Politicians in Crocodile Tears Shock

Something rather strange has happened in the last two weeks. For four years we have been told by politicians that teachers have never had it so good, and that they don’t work hard enough without the encouragement of having their pay cut through spurious performance mechanisms. An accompaniment to this dismal tune has been faithfully played by HMCI Wilshaw, who did a passable solo impersonation of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen when telling us that modern teachers didn’t really know what stress was, while simultaneously condemning any teachers who committed the cardinal crime of working their contracted hours, or taking their marking home rather than hanging around school buildings. Continue reading

Tristram Hunt – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Today, Tristram Hunt’s latest attempt to secure half a million teacher votes already alienated by Gove came in the form of the linked Guardian article. On the face of it, an attempt to perhaps repair the damage of his ludicrous “Teacher Oath” idea which became the most roundly ridiculed concept the educational world had seen since Gove’s personal draft of the History national curriculum. However, as always, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/21/labour-teachers-break-workload

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A plea for the return of complexity and nuance to education policy

One of the most difficult skills to teach in history is the skill of evaluation. The historian (usually not before A-level, because this is a difficult business), is invited to delve into endless statistics, sources and events, and to reach a view on the most likely motives, the most convincing cause, or the most significant success or failure.

Most students, indeed most adults, find this extremely difficult. We’re human – we like to be able to say that X led to Y, or that A was definitely more important than B. We crave order, predictability and the comfort of a universe in which we know that if we do this thing here, then that thing there will follow – today, tomorrow, and forever. We don’t like randomness or extreme complexity.

The problem is that in the world of human interaction which history covers, such simplicity is rarely seen. Continue reading

Challengers and Champions. Are we ready to listen?

Thought this was a rather good blog. Not all new ideas are good ones, and not all criticism or doubt is misplaced or cynical.

teacherhead

The role of a challenger? The role of a challenger?

Following all the discussions at the ResearchEd conference last weekend, I’ve been thinking about the balance we need to strike when presented with new ideas or when we’re presenting them ourselves.  We need to be open to the possibility that a strategy might be a good one whilst remaining confident that, as professionals, we’ll be able to discuss the evidence and challenge the idea if necessary.

As I describe in my talk and blog about barriers to effective CPD, the two ends of the spectrum are equally problematic. The hyper-puppy evangelists often put up defenses that are difficult to deal with.  They can take it personally if you burst their bubble of wild enthusiasm with any suggestion that you’re not entirely on-board.  Similarly the jaded eye-rollers of doom can kill the spirit of any number of exploratory initiatives before they’ve had a chance to…

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