It is necessary to first read this article. What follows is an explanation of the top five most effective teaching interventions according to the research summarised in the EEF Toolkit. These are as follows.
1= Metacognition and self-regulation (8)£****
1= Feedback (8)£***
3= Collaborative learning (5)£****
3= Oral language interventions (5)£****
3= Peer tutoring (5)£****
All of EEF’s ‘top five’ interventions share the common fundamental understandings and approaches of developmental learning described by Piaget and Vygotsky.
Kitchen sink learning
As grandparents, my wife and I take a keen interest in the education of our grandchildren. Some of this is recorded in ‘Learning Matters‘ where I refer to the developing cognitive ability of our six-year old granddaughter. What follows is more recent and describes some kitchen sink experimentation with her (now 10) and her younger sister. The children were asked to do the following with a deep kitchen sink, a tumbler, some thin card, a sharp point to make a hole in the card, a drinking straw with a flexible end and a feather.
This activity can include all five EEF interventions, all of which depend on the ‘cognitive conflict’ that arises from each unexpected, and therefore curiosity stimulating outcome. Such ‘cognitive’ conflict is vital to all developmental learning, which can then proceed as follows.
Inverting the filled tumbler with the piece of card on the top then letting go (of the card) is a sure-fire jaw dropper and attention capturer. It works with any thickness of card that is not too thin so as to get waterlogged and soggy. Beer mats are good. I haven’t tried it with a pint of beer in a pub, but it should work. Look out for it now on You Tube! It also works fine with cling film and perhaps more surprisingly with cooking foil – no need to wrap it round the sides of the tumbler, just push it into place onto the top of the tumbler.
There is a further intervention called ‘Bridging’, which is a feature of ‘Cognitive Acceleration’ practice. EEF have not researched this. In this example this would involve asking the children to think about sucking drinks up a straw -what is really happening? Then there is ‘cling film’. Why does it stick to smooth surfaces (but not rough ones)? How do rubber suckers work? If possible show how window glass fitters handle large heavy slabs of plate glass – with big suckers!
All this takes up a lot of time, but there are three vital advantages compared to the ‘teacher telling/pupil listening under threat of sanction’ method.
The last advantage is by far the most important in KS1/KS2 where the main pedagogic aims should be developmental – raising cognitive ability/general intelligence.
Imagine a school where all subjects are taught this way. This is an example in science, which readily lends itself to the approach, which was the initial basis of Shayer and Adey’s ‘Cognitive Acceleration’ project, which can be adapted to all subjects including English, maths the humanities, arts design and technology as explained in their book, ‘Learning Intelligence‘. There are some great ideas for working with five year olds. I love the green dinosaurs and red mammoths activity – you will have to read the book. However no methodology, however effective, should be treated like a religion. Other kinds of lessons can still be taught, teachers can explain and demonstrate things, videos can be watched, notes can be made and tests can be taken.
Such an approach cannot be imposed on teachers as a national initiative. School leaders have to understand it and believe in it first. Teachers then have to be trusted to discuss it in departments and staff meetings. Dissent has to be tolerated and met with rational debate, not the pulling of rank.
Schools should become ‘institutions of learning’ that include the teachers and all other staff in the learning process.
Does Morgan and Gibb’s compulsory academisation plan suggest such a future?
I don’t think so.
Are teachers willing to be bullied into submission?
I hope not.
You can find an extendede version of this article here