I’ve got a lesson for you, Mr. Wilshaw:
it’s the pupils’ role to learn.
Therefore learning is student-centred.
Ergo teaching is scholar-focussed!
What are you suggesting we do? Lecture from the front of the class – casting our knowledge indiscriminately in the hope that some of it will hit the appropriate place at just the right time? And hoping that, whilst we’re doing that, the pupils will also somehow magically acquire the relevant practical skills which inevitably accompanies the knowledge? Guess what? That’s what the internet does. And just how good have undirected MOOCs turned out to be, huh?
- It’s the role of the teacher to ascertain what each student knows and what still needs to be learnt.
- It’s the role of the teacher to break that down into manageable chunks and to present it in a way that’s easy to grasp. And
- it’s the role of the teacher to ensure that the student also acquires the skills needed to accompany the knowledge.
This is not dumbing-down education Sir Michael, this IS education.
When I was growing up I used to like the top of the milk on my cornflakes. I didn’t mind that the consequence of that was that the milk in my tea was semi-skimmed. Now milk is uniformly the same.
The Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, wonders why the outcomes of education aren’t as consistent as homogenized milk. Obviously I’ve got a few ideas!
- The classroom. No two students are the same: ability, approach to learning, potential. Nor two classes. Nor two periods of the day or week. The weather. In fact, a myriad of external influences on both the teacher and each individual student: the synergy created by personalities in that moment.
- The school. Their facilities. The expectations. NoR and class sizes. Diet and exercise, and the optimum balance between a task, a change of activity and down-time. The different qualities in the school staff (academic and support): (variety of) age, the experience they bring, their gender and gender mix. And management styles: the atmosphere created.
- The influences on the student. Family and friends as well as community figures. And all the experiences a young person has in the majority of the day that is outside the classroom.
- Comparable local socio-economies. To expect the same outcome from similar students, their starting point must be about the same, and the opportunities afforded to them must be about the same too.
But perhaps above all,
- Aspiration needs to be kindled. If a student can’t see the far horizon: the potential, the possibilities, the goal, then with the best will in the world, they have nothing to aim for.
So if obtaining a uniform output is the desired outcome, it’s going to require much more than boiling the education profession up to a high temperature, Mr. Wilshaw.