Module Evaluation

I’m not entirely sure what we are meant to be blogging about bu here goes..

I have realy enjoyed this module; I have especially enjoyed how interactive it is and it’s a great and easy way of discussing topics and sharing opinions. It has made me read around the subject I’m bloggin about and I feel I understand the educational system better. I am not 100% sure of what I want to do after college, but one thing that I have been looking into is a becoming an educational psychologist. I feel that this module has made me aware of the weaknesses of the educational system and,in the future, I could apply what I have learnt to help children that are finding school dificult.

One of the things that I was surprised to read about and what I have learnt from the research for my blogs, is how the government can ignore teaching methods that have been supported by research but implement teaching methods that has either no research or opposing research, such as discovery learning. I, also, especially found the talks about the influence of politics on the educational system and how much the government are willing to change the educational system in the hope of saving money, with reducing the school week to four days as they are discussing in Scotland.

As we learnt in the last lecture, everyone has the ability to have an impact on somehitng, it’s just about doing it. I think that modules like this are a great way of allowing people to form their opinions on research and question the system. Hopefully, if more of these modules are introduces,more people will question the norm and fight for change if something is obviously not working.

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A blog a few of you might be interested in…

I found this blog (I hope the link has worked) that talks about the spending issued in America. The blog argues that the government should re-asses their priorities and spend their money wisely in order to help the schools. According to the blog, four out of ten students don’t graduate. It touches on something that I’ve read a blog on recently which is the lack of discipline of bad teachers. If the teacher is a bad teacher, there seems to be nothing in place to help better these teachers; they seem to just get ignored. Should this be tolerated? One way to ‘buffer’ the impact of bad teaching is to have a structured, universal teaching method and a well designed curriculum.

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A Sure Start?

Sure start is a government scheme to help parents of young children. They offer a place where the child can play, make new friends and learn, and where the parents can access help and advice on matters such as family health and job opportunities. This schemes aims to better the life of the children and to offer some support and has been argued to be an ‘example of a ‘joined up government’ and evidence based policy making’.

 Sure Start was the Labour’s party strategy to reduce social exclusion and Sure Start has been shown to help reduce conduct disorders in children. Sure Start has also been mentioned as one of the best interventions to prevent crime later in the child’s life.

 Through an educational point of view, there are many researches supporting pre-school education as Elen Mai blogged about last week. Pre-schools give the child a head start academically as well as socially, with children that attended pre-school being less likely to commit crimes later in life. When controlling for between subject factors, research has found a significant difference between high use of Sure Start and personal and social development scores.

 Other research has found that the effectiveness of the programme depends on the deprivation of the parents, with children with non-teenage mothers responding better to the programme, compared with children of teenage mothers with poorer social functioning. Another research claims that there is no significant difference between children that attend these centres and children that don’t.

 It has been reported in the news recently the government has cut 11% of the grant to support the Sure Start scheme, resulting in many councils in England closing the centres. In this article, Hampshire council argue that by closing the centres, the council can save money and reduce the number of job losses.

 I was wondering what are the opinion of other’s on the closure of these centres, taking in mind the poor economic climate and the mixed research regarding the success of the scheme? Maybe it’s also worth mentioning that it was the labour party that supported the scheme and the conservatives who are reducing the grant?

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8 Skills that every teacher should posses


In our ABA lecture yesterday, Mike Beverly gave a lecture on classroom management. One of the pioneering psychologists in the field is Glenn Latham. Over a period of 16 years, Latham travelled around the US as well as 14 other countries observing 303 classrooms and interviewing the teachers. He published and discussed his findings in his book ‘Behind the Schoolhouse Door’. I’ll discuss the eight skills in this blog and how they can be implicated in the classroom.

  1. The ability to teach expectation: according to Latham, it important that students are made aware of what is expected of them in the classroom and this, in turn will improve the behaviour of the children. Classroom ‘rules’ should be referred to as ‘expectations’ and these should be made clear at the beginning of the lesson. For example, a teacher should start the lesson by explaining to the pupils that it is expected for them to raise their hand before speaking in the classroom. These expectation should be taught through an instructive language and not critically (‘I expect you to raise your hand’ and not ‘Don’t shout in the classroom’). Teachers should engage the pupils whilst discussing the expectations as pupils are more likely to follow the rules if they feel they have played an important role in the rule making. These expectations should also be modelled by the teacher so that the pupils are able to follow their lead. Reid (1993) found that if the children were taught specifically what is expected of them at the beginning of school then misbehaviour decreased by 40%.
  2. The ability to get and keep student on task: it is important that teachers are able to keep students engaged in the lesson to be able to teach them. The other skills link in this skill, for example, by making sure the pupils understand what is expected of them in the beginning, this should ensure that the class behaves and also has respect for the teacher. Teachers should also move around the class, keeping an eye on the student to ensure that everyone is on task. The children are more likely to be well behaved if they feel that the teacher is keeping an eye on them.
  3. The ability to maintain high rate of positive teacher to student interaction: again, I believe that this is important for the second skill. Pupils are much more likely to listen to a teacher that they like. It has been shown that behaviour responds better to positive than negative consequence. Teachers should praise good behaviour instead of singling out one child and using coercive methods. Latham’s data suggest that approximately 90% of desirable behaviour goes unrecognised and teachers were two to five times more likely to pay attention to poor behaviour.
  4. The ability to respond to noncoersively to inappropriate behaviour that is consequential: teacher’s should approach children calmly and approachable and not angry and reactive as the pupils will react to the teachers behaviour and the situation can worsen. After all, the teacher is meant to be full yin control of the situation.
  5. The ability to maintain a high rate of risk free student responses opportunities: when children are placed in a position where there is a low risk of punishment or failure, behaviour will improve as well as academic success (Pigford, 1995). This is probably due to the fact that it increases confidence in the student and increases respect for the teacher. If a teacher is over critical, then a child will be less willing to contribute to the class and engage in the lesson. For the people that are interested, I found this book which looks into the discipline method of teachers and how schoosl can support positive behaviour.
  6. The ability to serve problem behaviour student in the regular classroom: If a child is exhibiting behaviour that is disruptive to the other pupils learning, often the child is removed from the classroom. Latham argued that this method is only affective is the child want to be in the classroom. Otherwise, this method could act as reinforcement for the undesirable behaviour as the child gets a break from the classroom. Time out is most affective when the child is isolated. It could also be argued that removing the attention from the child will have the same results, which links in with the positive relationship. If the misbehaving child is ignored by the teacher, and a child that is behaving is receiving the teachers attention then the misbehaving child, in theory, will copy the behaving child.
  7. The ability to avoid being trapped: there were a few examples of the traps that teachers could fall into. I’m only going to discuss three of them as I am aware that my blog is quite long. The first trap that I’m going to discuss is criticism. As I have discussed before, criticising the child will only result in more opposition. Rather than criticising the child, the teacher could concentrate on the pupils good work as well as the poor and suggest how the pupil could better the work. The second trap is threats. It is easy enough for a teacher to say ‘if the work doesn’t improve then you are not going on the trip’ but the teacher is encouraging a hostile relationship between the student and teacher. Threats should be avoided by substituting with rewards. For example, instead of the threat mentioned above, the teacher could say ‘if you complete this work, then you will receive a star on your chart’. An obvious trap to avoid is force. Teachers shouldn’t exhibit any force on the pupil and the pupil will feel threatened and again, it will risk a hostile relationship between the teacher and pupil.
  8. The ability to manage behaviour scientifically: this skill links in to what we’ve all been blogging about for the last eight weeks. Teachers should be using proven methods to manage behaviour and how the pupils learn; methods such as direct instruction or precision teaching.

It’s interesting that these points were published in the 70’s, and all skills are based on theory and/or research, but I wonder if these are even mentioned on the teaching course. It does seem that there has been a problem with the educational system for a while with educators ignoring scientific research. When Latham was asked ‘why aren’t effective teaching tools widely adopted?’, he replied ‘myth and bigotry’ and said that the school system was ‘narrow minded and unwilling to change the way they have always done things’. Could the same be said today?

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Education Abroad.

I recently read this blog about the education system in Hong Kong and it made me think about the selective systems in schools.  The blog argues that there is an unequality in who attend universities in Hong Kong and that it hasn’t been regulated. The blog argues that the majority of people that attend universites come from slective private schools rather than state schools. It seems there is a similar problem in Australia that has a selective system. I have recently blogged about the free schools in the UK. There are currently more free schools opening in this country, whichh is meant to give parents the opportunity to set up their own school if the schools in the area isn’t successful. However, the more popular these free schools are, and if local schools don’t react to the competition, these schools may have to become selective, then it is likely that we are going to have the same problem in this country, with only the people who can afford to being able to send their children to the best schools. This will cause a big gap between the classes if this does happen. University prices are increasing as it is. Lets not let this happen to primary or secondary shools.

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Practical Intelligence

While blogging about Jamie Oliver’s Dream School, it made me think about the difference between practical subjects and academic ones. Jamie Oliver’s school included 20 students that have less than the 5 GCSE grades C or above that they need to study their A Levels. In other words, they struggled to get the grades they needed in academic subjects to be able to study their A Levels and found it difficult to find work, and with 30,000 children leaving schools with no GCSE’s at all its a big problem. I came across this book that describes the difference between academic intelligence and practical intelligence, with academic intelligence being school intelligence and practical intelligence being able to succeed in work or working with people. If a child is failing at academic subjects, this could be due to the fact that the child possesses more practical intelligence and vice versa. Why not offer more vocational training or practical subjects in schools? I understand that this is risking labelling children and provides an excuse for under achieving children, but maybe it’s worth considering?  

 When the labour government were in power, they increased the number of practical subjects in schools. This resulted, however, in schools enrolling students in the practical subjects because they are deemed as easier and therefore boosts the schools averages. The conservative are hoping to increase on-the-job training vacancies and taking vocational training away from schools. The aim is that UK firm will create 100,000 more apprenticeships by 2014. The hope is that it will increase the number of people in work which will benefit the economy. Studies in Kenya have shown that there are no benefits to vocational training in schools with little finding work one year after training, but is this applicable to the UK?

Whilst I was giving this talk Monday, Jesse raised some interesting points about stigma. He argued that there is a stigma attached to practical work in this country with graduates earning much more than skilled practical workers. I did find that, in the year 2008, graduates median salary was £24, 048, but a plasterer earns an average of £33,886. I agree that there some what of a stigma, but I also think that things are changing slightly and these statistics do suggest this. There are so many people today going through universities and gaining a degree and there is much more influence on work experience and that a degree isn’t enough.

 What does everybody else think? Is it fair that graduates get paid more than skilled practical workers? Should there be an emphasis on education?

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History in primary school

I read this article recently which claims that primary school pupils don’t learn enough about history. Ofsted argue that it is a myth that children don’t learn about our countries story. I have to admit that I don’t remember being taught much about history in primary school. Even in secondary school, I remember somethings about the history of our countries leisure activities, but thats it. I wonder how many of you reme,ber being taught much about history in primary or secondary school? Surely history is an important subject as the saying is somthing like ‘too move on you have to know where you have been?

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