The generic and the disciplinary: finding a balance | Adam

Yesterday, I posted a blog arguing that “teaching and learning” is dead. It generated some really fascinating conversations online, and I wanted to pick up on something a couple of people raised: it may be the case that curriculum comes first, and that it dictates pedagogy. And it may be the case that in the past there have been some fairly questionable outcomes of non-specialists observing specialists. But:
Are there not some things like retrieval practice which we know are generally good ideas which even a non-specialist would be able to identify?
Is there really no value to observing a…

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Teaching and Learning is Dead | Adam

We’ve all been there: formal observation with a non-specialist. Being told that our AfL was sub-par, that our activities weren’t engaging enough, that we hadn’t appropriately differentiated for SEN, EAL, PP, G&T, HPA, LPA etc etc.

It’s incredibly frustrating to be told by someone who doesn’t know your subject that you are teaching it wrong. How can it be that someone who knows nothing about covalent bonding can tell me that my teaching of it is sub-standard because I didn’t progress up Bloom’s taxonomy? How can it be that someone can judge my sixth form marking when they cannot…

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Modelling Curricular Thinking: Inspired by Ben Ranson | Adam

I was just settling in for a well-earned evening playing video games on my laptop when I saw this thread by Ben Ranson:

1/ A short thread on sequencing, schema, retrieval practice, and how we plan on teaching the global atmospheric circulatory model in our Year 8 curriculum. #geographyteacher

— Ben Ranson (@ThatBenRanson) February 4, 2019

The reason why Ben’s thread is important is because it models curricular thinking. Most of us (including myself) are not trained to think deeply about curriculum, and in this bright new era of curriculum, curriculum, curriculum, we need models –…

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Core and hinterland: What’s what and why it matters | Adam

In 1918, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to a war criminal.

In the early years of the 20th century, German scientist Fritz Haber developed a process to artificially synthesise ammonia, a vital component of agricultural fertilisers. A reaction that changed the world, his process drove a ballooning in industrial agriculture and, with the fullness of time, allowed for a population explosion and the pulling of billions of people out of poverty.

But Haber’s oeuvre extended from the globally beneficial to the sinister. A fervent nationalist, in World War I he turned his brilliance to…

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The molecular Biology of a PGCE course – Dr Andrew Carroll | Adam

Below is Dr Andrew Carroll’s  contribution to the Curriculum in Science Symposium. See here for the introduction to the symposium and links to other contributions.

In this brief paper I will attempt to illustrate how, in my role as a PGCE tutor, I have structured a PGCE course around two central ideas:
Learning to teach does involve the acquisition of a specific type of knowledge.
The knowledge for teaching can be regarded as being organised into ‘schema’ which are adaptable.

I completed my PGCE in 1996, so of course I was introduced to the ‘holy tryptic’ of Bruner, Vygotsky &…

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Diiferentiation is well-intentioned. But it is bankrupt – Guest Post | Adam

The below was sent to me by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of ramifications if their senior leaders see it. Please read, enjoy, and show them some support. 


Humans are intentional beings. We want things to happen and we choose actions to bring those things about.  But there is folly in judging the goodness of something by the intentions of its agent, rather than its actual outcomes. “For-profit” companies become insolvent. Political regimes are established to liberate but grow to oppress. The violent alcoholic partner who really wants to change is still a danger to…

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Data’s veil of ignorance | Adam

A few years back I went for a pizza with an old friend. We shared a pretty large pizza but somehow ended up with just one slice left between the two of us which we both desperately wanted. Bearing in mind that we would both happily lie, trick or outright fight each other for the last slice, our ensuing discussion about how to apportion it ended in a stalemate, with neither of us agreeing on a compromise. At this point, my friend suggested a solution: I would cut the slice in half, and he would choose which half to take.

Brilliant. It was in my interests to cut it as equally as possible,…

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