Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Session 3 - 30th November 2011

"NI schools are good at attaining exam results but poor at promoting thinking." Discuss .

A really wide ranging discussion this week which touched on the issues of selection, streaming, differentiation, thinking skills, active learning, assessment, parental involvement and multiple intelligences.

Chats shouldn’t really be so wide ranging but the *facilitator* decided on a change of tact this week and opted for a “free-for-all” approach to discussion management which may have to be reviewed before the next #NIedchat.

With regard to selection it was felt that Primary Schools felt under pressure to prepare pupils for the transfer test to the detriment of other learning activities. If primary schools refused then parents would take their children elsewhere. It was mentioned that some parents were asking questions about school policy on transfer test preparation as early as the Y1 induction! I was generally held that parents expect selection as it is the system they experienced however one participant remarked on how strange he felt selection was from an outsider’s perspective.

The traditional method of rote learning was next under the microscope. Rote learning was seen by some participants to have its uses, for the learning of tables for example however I was interesting that a lot of the tweets mentioned ideas like active, independent and life-long learning. There was a big input to this part of the debate from languages teachers and the general vibe was that in order to be proficient with a language rote learning would never be enough. The NI Curriculum came in for some praise however it was remarked that it was having little impact upon practice in some classrooms. Basically it was felt that it was left to individual teachers whether they embraced the ethos of the NI Curriculum or not.

The debate veered towards streaming and differentiation. It was suggested that mixed-ability teaching could help teachers think more about learning strategies and less about content. There was a lot of support for streaming by ability although the question was asked as to how this was different from selection. A debate for another day maybe!

A number of other issues were touched the unfairness of using exam data to assess the effectiveness of schools. It was generally felt that there needed to be an overhaul of how education was viewed by the general public and by government. In closing the group felt that the NI education system as it stands does not equip our children with many of the skills that they need.

Tweet of the Week

A system that worships at the altar of academic selection is always going to be results-led, and not child centred.


Stimulus Article

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook

Shared by @amandasalt

Changing Paradigms##

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