My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Why can't even Ofsted identify learning?

I have been rather proud of my use of a simple Building Learning Power strategy.I even blogged about it ( http://pedagogicalpurposes.blogspot.com/2009/10/i-have-posted-this-brief-clip-to.html )Whereby at the start of the year, with every class, I ask the students to come up with a helpful list of " What good learners do?" and also "what good learners do when they get stuck". This has been a useful classroom management tool and has led me to believe that my classroom is focused on learning. I'm not so sure now.

It definately a classroom management tool, a good one at that, but how much of it is genuinely about learning. This according to Professor Graham Nuthall is a common problem, teachers confuse good pupil behaviour for good learner behaviour. His research clearly shows that these are distinct. For example all of my classes state good learners "follow instructions" and "stay on task", and many of them include "avoid distractions". Yes, these could lead to a situation could take place but do not actually describe what students do when they are learning. Maybe the hardwired teacher default position of "behaviour first, learning second" explains but does not excuses my use of this tool. Maybe it is just easier to see behaviour than learning.So why is learning so difficult to see or quantify? Could it be that teachers are over focussed on behaviour and learning is lost within this? Could it be a teachers reluctance to surrender control of the learning?
Today's report from Ofsted about how well students behave in school, is exactly what I'm talking about on an infuriating scale. Surely schools are about learning and not behaviour factories. Of course young people are well behaved, just like all other age groups. Is this what Ofsted is for? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8637064.stm )

Thankfully I always have a copy of PEEL's learner behaviours on the wall adjacent to the class displays. I refer to this with my students as where we are heading, but not as often as I should. This is focused on learning, and therefore that teachers can see the learning behaviours in their students.

These include: Plans a general strategy before starting and Challenges the text or an answer the teacher sanctions as correct. I love this the locus of control is crashing away from the teacher.

The full list can be found here( http://peelweb.org/index.cfm?resource=good%20behaviours ) I recommended displaying these in your classroom and sharing them with your students at the very least. You never know an Ofsted inspector might see them......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. This is what the yr 9 students were trying to do on an etherpad alternative today. I asked them to challenge me with questions that I couldn't answer via open source. First question I was asked was.....'what car does my dad drive'...lovin it! Got them to sign a contract of good learning as well. tried to get them to think about aspects of learning rather than aspects of good behaviour, thing is I struggled a little as well. I'm thinking this shouldn't be that hard so looks like I've got good behaviour confused with good learning already, so this peel list is just what the doc ordered.

  2. Cheers Stu,
    It is hard, noting behaviour is easier than spotting learning. But the value for teachers and students is immense, you get bona fide feedback on where your students are at.