Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wonderful teachers might not be so wonderful

How do you know what kids actually learn? Teachers know what they are teaching, but what learning actually takes place? My mate Pezza has really gone deep on these questions and has looked at research that really has made a difference. I have read a few really interesting pieces and he has had great success tracking down the experts. Dr Graham Nutthall certainly was a man ahead of his time, and I keep coming back to what he said in an interview with Kim Hill. I suppose research can be difficult to read, but imagine listening to a radio host (who asks good questions) asking the researcher and getting the good oil. Interesting stuff.

So what can we learn :

Teachers hardly ever know what’s going on with their students.

How little the teacher impacts on the average student even though the teacher thinks he or she is doing a very good job.

In fact, we find out that a substantial amount of what teachers teach, or attempt to teach, is already known by a significant number of kids in the class. Up to 50%.

Hill: So when you talk to children or even adults ... People often say I had a fantastic teacher. Does that mean that teacher is fantastic? Is that the best kind of reference a teacher can get? Is that meaningful?

Nuttall: I think it’s meaningful within our cultural expectations of what good teachers are about; the teacher had a sense of humour, explained things clearly to us, he really cared about me, and a whole lot of things like that which motivates kids and makes them feel good. And those are the kinds of teachers which they will remember. The older generation will remember teachers who were pretty tough on them but made them work hard. But things like working hard and explaining things clearly and so on are all surface features. You could have in fact learned very little from these wonderful teachers.

I have put the whole interview here it may take 30 minutes to read but worth the effort.


Mac Stevenson said...

Doesn't this put LI s and such academic driven "good practice" into perspective.
Take note Hattie and ERO

Mike said...

Thanks for digging up that great interview. Wonderful stuff.

Greg said...

You Kiwis have got some good perspectives as well as a great rugby team. Asking kids about the teaching is a rich untapped source. Even better is to give the responses to a teacher and to let them reflect on the message for them. Don't use it to judge them but as another windo to reflect on their practice

Podgorani said...

The research really was different. I hope teachers don't take it the wrong way. But reflection is what it's all about