Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New Blog Site - this one will be closing down!

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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

To praise or not to praise, that is the question

Dr Carol Dweck "Emphasising effort gives a child a variable they can control. They come to see themselves in control of their success. Emphasising natural intelligence takes it out of a child's control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure."

In wider studies, the relentless pressure on a child branded a genius is now being seen as a prime reason for them falling back at school. In a frankly terrifying study of 10/11 year olds in New York, children were set tests. Afterwards, half of them were told, "You must be smart at this." The other half were told, "You must have worked really hard." They were then offered a choice of second test, one easy and one hard. The children who had been told they had been smart picked the easy test. Those who were encouraged for hard work went for the harder option.

So does all this mean we should never praise a child for achieving things, only for the effort they put in? Probably not. As with all things, there is probably a more common sense approach in the middle. However, when going through your child's attainment grades and test results, it is important to also talk about it in the context of the effort grade. (If you want to read a fuller article on this subject then click here)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Adults abdicating responsibility for children

Teachers and parents are “abdicating their responsibility” by increasingly involving children in major decisions, according to a leading academic. They are fuelling a “crisis of adult authority” by promoting young people’s rights, it was claimed. Dennis Hayes, professor of education at Derby University, said the current “obsession” with consulting pupils over issues such as homework and the school curriculum undermined the power of adults. He suggested that the shift was fuelling bad behaviour among children.

It comes as the Government’s new Education Bill creates a series of 23 “guarantees” for schoolchildren. The proposed legislation – outlined in the Queen’s Speech – gives pupils the legal right to “have their say about standards of behaviour in their school”.

Schools are already obliged to ask children about major policies, including uniform, health and safety, school dinners and equality. New-style Ofsted inspections allow pupils to rate teaching standards and many schools also include children on interview panels when appointing new staff. Supporters claim that listening to the “pupil voice” increases the bond between children and the school – meaning they are more likely to behave and work hard.

But Prof Hayes said most children “know nothing” because they have not experienced life. “Everywhere I go the clearest sign of the rejection of adult authority is listening to learner, student, pupil [or] infant voice. Anybody’s voice but the voice of adults,” he said. “I love debating with pupils and students and getting them to research but basically they know nothing.”

He said that in previous generations the most important thing was to “transmit” education to young people. But in a speech to the Westminster Education Forum, in central London, he said that involving pupils in education and the decision-making process made adults appear “abject”.

Addressing an audience of teachers, civil servants and police officers, he said: “You are all professionals and you are saying that all you have to do is listen to young people. Well, you are abandoning your jobs – your role as adults – and you will make education in the future impossible.” He added: “What are you going to say if you are 14 and asked about Latin? ‘Oh God, why do I have to study Latin, it is so boring?’ That is not a critique of the curriculum. That is a whinge from a 14-year-old who doesn’t want to do the hard work.”

Prof Hayes is the co-author of the book The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education, which suggested that pushing pupils to talk about their feelings created a culture of dependence among children. He said similar conclusions could be drawn in the justice system, where the views of victims play an increasing role in punishments.

“I think victims are at the centre of everything now. That’s one of the features of our times,” he said. “No matter what they say, we like to hear their voice. It’s therapy for victims and it is therapy for you. Nothing comes from it, we don’t learn anything, we just feel a bit better. We feel we’ve listened and we feel that people have expressed themselves."

“That is the only thing you can do when you have abandoned authority. It is the same with parents. The obsession with parents these days is that they are always looking for someone to blame. You are looking for someone else to blame to avoid the problem of facing up to your own responsibility.”

(A thought provoking article from Graeme Paton, Education Editor at the Daily Telegraph)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Ideas make the world go round


150,000 ideas were sent in from people living in 172 countries, speaking 25 different languages. There were eight different categories that ideas: community, energy, environment through to health, education, shelter and opportunity, and not to forget the “everything else” basket. The same people who submitted ideas were then invited to vote on the best ones that should receive the $10 million that Google are going to invest and which should be announced soon.

You can see the full range of ideas here. Some of the finalist ideas were:
  • support efforts to increase young Africans' access to quality education by creating "cyber schools";
  • create a fund to support social entrepreneurship by providing targeted capital and business training to help young entrepreneurs build viable businesses and sustained community change;
  • coordinate a rapid-response tool for natural disasters; introduce an ecological VAT instead of income tax;
  • create an advanced health monitoring system;
  • encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists; and
  • create a transportation system that enables electric cars to run on a rail-type system.

When so many ideas struggle just to see the light of day, it’s wonderful how the project has given people the opportunity to spread their ideas. The project has just finished voting and winners should be announced shortly, when the ideas go to work they will surely help transform the way people live.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Wrong is OK

This week in assembly I was talking about the importance of getting things wrong. John Zogby is a successful pollster in the US. He was completely, utterly wrong about Al Gore in Florida, wrong about John Kerry, wrong about predicting the New Hampshire primary in 2008. Notice I said ‘successful’ pollster, not disgraced pollster. If he wasn’t willing to be wrong, he wouldn’t usually be right. Isaac Newton was totally, fantastically wrong about alchemy, the branch of science he spent most of his career on. He was as wrong as a scientist could be, and yet he is widely regarded as the most successful scientist and mathematician ever. Steve Jobs, who started Apple, was wrong about the Apple 111 computer, wrong about the NEXT computer, wrong about the Newton Operating System. Insanely wrong. But you know the rest...Wrong isn’t usually fatal. In fact, it’s usually how we learn best. In skiing, if you’re not falling down you’re not trying hard enough. In Maths, you should be getting some things wrong because that’s how you improve. So don’t worry about getting things wrong – having a go is more important, as is learning from what you got wrong.