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'Educators' on R4: What really matters in education

(28 Posts)
Asterisk Wed 20-Aug-14 16:42:09

Very interesting programme that shows we should change the way we make choices about education. The main finding from 20-year metadata study by Prof John Hattie is that the factor that has the biggest impact is teacher expertise. So much for the mantra, 'Choose the subject, not the teacher.' Things that don't really matter are class size, amount of homework, or even private/state. Also, the worst thing you can do apparently, is say 'Do your best'.

Essential listening for everyone interested in education.

Nodney Wed 20-Aug-14 16:44:27

Thanks Asterisk - going to listen to that later!

Missunreasonable Wed 20-Aug-14 17:09:09

Why is it a bad thing to say 'do your best'. Surely it is much better than saying 'don't worry about trying hard'. I always tell my son that I don't care what percentage or level he achieves, I only care that he makes a reasonable amount of effort and does HIS best.
Now I'm thinking that I have got it all wrong.

Dapplegrey Wed 20-Aug-14 17:43:52

Yes, I'd like to know why it's bad to say "do your best".

HolidayPackingIsHardWork Wed 20-Aug-14 18:06:34

Because saying, "do your best," limits the child to their own aspirations and puts a limit on them. Instead, you should be stretching the child and helping them achieve beyond their own expectations.

I enjoyed the show. Amen, to school projects being an utter waste of time. Hurray to a few well targeted, 5 minute, worksheets to reinforce the lessons.

Also, so obvious that teaching quality is the bottom line. We always miss this because we cannot see it for ourselves.

BL00CowWonders Wed 20-Aug-14 18:18:05

I didn't catch all the program but the stand- out moment for me was when he quoted (who? Missed it!) that for young/ summer born children what matters most is making a friend in the first month of school. shock. Was also very interested that mixed ability groups help all of the class to improve.

HolidayPackingIsHardWork Wed 20-Aug-14 18:23:50

Yes, the fact that making a friend the first month caught my attention too.

I thought the mixed ability groups was also interesting. Finally, he mentioned that able children get a short shrift at the moment. He said all children should get a year's progress for a year's worth of time and effort. He said to many schools let able children coast and this is one reason we are dropping in the PISA rankings.

Dapplegrey Wed 20-Aug-14 18:34:12

Mixed ability classes never helped me to improve.
When I was at school many many moons ago I was taught maths in a mixed ability class. There were some clever girls (it was an all girls school) in the class and maths, which was my weakest subject, moved along at the pace of the clever ones.
I never understood a word of what was going on and I got 4% in my maths O level.
Maybe I would have understood a bit more if I was with other low ability pupils for whom everything would have had to be explained very slowly.

ManicMinor Wed 20-Aug-14 19:15:11

BL00 - sounded like Maurice Galton, who is an Education Professor at Cambridge.

ManicMinor Wed 20-Aug-14 19:15:36

And thanks, OP, an interesting listen.

IndridCold Wed 20-Aug-14 22:39:54

Enjoyed it too, interesting man. I did think his comment that the brightest children didn't get as much as they should out of the system rather contradicted his point that mixed ability teaching made no difference though. I may have to listen again.

Asterisk Thu 21-Aug-14 00:05:43

I think he said streaming made no difference, IndridCold. He advocated mixed ability teaching because students learn from and teach each other which does have an impact. Dapplegrey - it doesn't sound like your mixed-ability class was taught effectively. Maybe one of those girls who was good at maths would have explained the material to you much better than the teacher did, given half a chance. My DD had a rubbish physics teacher so the girls paired themselves up and explained things to each other, and also asked older girls to mentor them. It seemed to work well, but I'll find out how effective that was tomorrow when GCSE results are in. Eek!

Missunreasonable Thu 21-Aug-14 07:13:15

Because saying, "do your best," limits the child to their own aspirations and puts a limit on them. Instead, you should be stretching the child and helping them achieve beyond their own expectations.

But people can do no better than their best -that's why it is their best. Helping your child to achieve and stretching them doesn't mean that they can perform at a level beyond their best. By ensuring that a child is confident in his abilities and has a sound knowledge of a subject he will perform to his best but he cannot perform beyond his best.
I feel that asking somebody to perform beyond their best is setting them up to feel like a failure as you are asking them to do something that is impossible; it's akin to asking a child to achieve 110% in an exam.

OneLittleToddleTerror Thu 21-Aug-14 07:36:09

missunreasonable saying do your best is a very British (or many Anglo) thing. It's certainly not the universal approach. Have you read the tiger mum's book? It is not the norm in Chinese culture for example. The parents would set a standard they think the child can achieve instead. Like I'm sure you can get a 9/10 if you work harder.

JustRichmal Thu 21-Aug-14 07:55:17

What I don't understand is if state or private education makes so little difference why the top university intakes do not reflect the population as a whole?
I thought the program raised more questions than it answered, but gave a very interesting perspective on education.

peteneras Thu 21-Aug-14 08:23:15

Missunreasonable, think about it of an athlete - how many times did we hear of athletes who go to (say) the Olympics and although didn’t win any medals, happen to break their personal best time there? And who is to say this best time ever cannot be improved even further?

HolidayPackingIsHardWork Thu 21-Aug-14 08:42:13

Misunreasonable, as I understood the man's comments on the program, he was saying that children underestimate themselves and therefore aren't aware what their best actually is. Therefore, it is up to parents and educators to help them achieve more than they thought they could.

It's not a case of actually achieving more than one's best. That is logically impossible. It is a case of not letting the child make the final judgement on their abilities because, more often than not, it is an under-estimation.

thelmachicken Thu 21-Aug-14 08:48:37

'Do your best' is too fuzzy. How does a child know what their 'best' is?

IndridCold Thu 21-Aug-14 10:01:17

Thanks Asterix, I must listen again without distractions. I'm looking forward to the programme with Daisy Christodoulu later on.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Thu 21-Aug-14 10:11:01

It's made a lovely change to listen to a programme about education without feeling the need to shout at the radio.
I liked the (really bleeding obvious...) point that it is the skill and experience of the teacher and their understanding of the impact of their teaching that is most important; not homework or uniform or curriculum.

OddBoots Thu 21-Aug-14 10:14:02

Thank you for this, I'm listening now.

Kablooger Thu 21-Aug-14 10:22:26

homework in primary school has zero effect

thelmachicken Thu 21-Aug-14 10:35:28

yes and uniform has zero effect also

thelmachicken Thu 21-Aug-14 10:40:29

He made an excellent observation about teachers talking while children watched (chalk and talk). He found that if children haven't learnt to be 'passive' by age 8, they are disadvantaged in our schools and tend to get into trouble.

That's a really important point. I would have liked him to have explored more the impact for those children's attainment.

funnyossity Thu 21-Aug-14 10:57:03

On the point about "Do your best."

I have used it on exam day and also to get the ball rolling on a piece of work that will be improved on later.

But I can see that as a blanket piece of advice it can have an unchallenging, passive feel. It puts on no expectation of improvement through practising or refining what you do.

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