Lucid Touchstone

Education Myths and Teaching Dogma

 June 29, 2015

By  Steve

I’m not sure what’s it’s like to be a teacher. On the one hand, it has to be one of the greatest jobs or vocations ever invented but on the other, what to do when the government of the day keeps changing things?

I once saw a film, it was quite an old film, which I think was in black and white. In this film was a person who said “raising standards in education.” Those almost immortal lines get said, year in and year out by our elected leaders, they get said by people involved in education.

I’m left wondering if in fact our standards in education have been raised or not. I’m all for raising standards but I’m dead against the same old stuff which seems to get trotted out year after year. It’s almost as if saying “raising standards in education” is all that needs to be said and it will come to pass.

Our education system is one giant institution who’s very existence is unquestioned and unquestionable. That is unless you are an idealogical politician who doesn’t need research to make unqualified changes and bugger the consequences.

Only this week, I saw an article by Mark Easton on the BBC website which was titled “Learning the facts about learning.” Source:

According to his piece which came from research commissioned by the Government called What Works? evidence for decision makers and can be found here Source:

“Peer tutoring approaches, where learners work in small groups to provide each other with explicit teaching support, have, on average, a high impact on attainment for low cost.

Research to date has suggested that students in a class with a teaching assistant do not, on average, perform better than those in a class with only a teacher. However, EEF trials have shown that teaching assistants can have a positive impact if they are trained to support pupils in evidence-based and well-structured interventions.

Helping pupils struggling with literacy at the start of secondary school is extremely challenging, and it is highly unlikely that a single intervention will be sufficient to help them catch up with their peers. However, some approaches are more effective than others. In a recent EEF trial, pupils who went on school trips were then taught a structured approach to improving their writing using the trip as a source of inspiration. The pupils who received this intervention made an average of nine months additional progress compared to the control group.

Small group tuition can be a cost effective alternative to one-to-one tuition as a way to provide intensive support for struggling pupils. This is true despite the fact that small group tuition is on average, slightly less effective than one-to-one tuition, because it is also much less expensive.

Rewarding pupils’ effort with financial incentives does not lead to a significant improvement in GCSE results, according to a randomised controlled trial involving 10,000 pupils across England.

Repeating a year is an expensive intervention and has consistently been found to have a negative impact on attainment.”

In the light of this research I must confess to being somewhat bemused by the near constant Government meddling.

Does anyone ever wonder why so much focus is based on a child’s age and where they should be at that moment in their life? Why is it that we put so much emphasis on a result of an exam which last 2 to 3 hours?

Being human is about lifelong learning and lifelong achievements. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor in a few hours. Improving what we do and how we do it is an ongoing apprenticeship.

Is it time for a radical rethink or just more of the same “raising standards in education.”


My values are are as personal to me as your values are as personal to you.

Discovery - Curiosity - Understanding - Challenge all feature high on my list of values.

I love to play around with ideas, ask hard questions and enjoy working out innovations around business models, strategies, design and systems.

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