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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

What really makes a difference to students' learning?


What really makes a difference to students' learning?

Firstly a few thoughts.

I have been at the chalk-face of teaching and more importantly, learning, for the past 41 years.
A prerequisite to good teaching is a command of subject knowledge. It is often said that 'it is no use having the subject knowledge if the skill to explain it is lacking'. I go one stage further: it is no use being able to explain the knowledge if the audience is unresponsive. Relationships underpin the best teaching and learning. The audience must want to be there and enjoy the experience. Learning takes place in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

I feel today's instructions/standards focus too much on quantifiable 'tick boxes' rather than on unquantifiable qualities such as relationships. In my 41 years in the classroom I have seen the criteria for an outstanding lesson vary so many times, each time incorporating more facets. Am I being too simplistic in saying that what matters is 'what the students know/understand on leaving the lesson minus what they knew/understood before the lesson?

Conventionally, students do most of their work in the evenings and weekends. This is when they need help from their teachers and just the times when their teachers are not there to help them.
Since the advent of the internet I have always encouraged my sixth form students to email me at these 'out of school ' times when they need help. The benefits of this need not be stated here as the comments in my guestbook 'say it all'. In the present climate, however, such communication with students is banned by most schools for obvious reasons - such a waste of learning potential.

On the subject of' 'Homework' please read my 'Homework - Education's Biggest Scam'.

I hope I have prompted some fruitful discussions and hopefully caused some to reconsider their views on teaching and learning.

Smile, Live Longer and Make Someone's Day

Jim

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