The False Dichotomy
There is a modish crowd abroad who believe that psychology is the cloth of gold from which pedagogy is to be spun and tailored. While it is true that psychology informs good pedagogy, wanton appeal to it as a cover for self-promotion, private consultancy and pedagogical reform should not go unchallenged.
To give an opening example, decades worth of very significant research by leading psychologists into the role of memory in learning processes has been used to persuade hundreds of people teaching thousands of pupils across the country that a flashcard scaled to A4, laminated and called a “knowledge organiser” is the ultimate product of cutting edge cognitive science and every pupil’s passport to Oxbridge. Persuaded of this, you are claimed as a “traditionalist“, a champion of knowledge and all-round good sort. Sceptical and you are damned as a “progressive“, brainwashed by Marxist constructionist ITT mandarins you abjure knowledge in favour of discovery learning and “21st Century skills” (21CS). It’s a false dichotomy, obviously, but it’s central to the “traditionalist” message and evident in their writing.
This is written in response to @OldAndrewUK’s polemical apology for bad mathematics at Michaela Community School entitled “The Truth About Calculating Angle Questions“, which itself was written in response to me. You will not find the document on his blog, which he has cultivated for over a decade and to which most people would refer for his views, perhaps ashamed of its content. With good reason.
My last post, Michaela’s Knowledge Deficit, is proving very popular and has led to a lot of twitter discussion around the issues of qualifications appropriate to subject specialists and desirable standards for mathematical resources. Upon looking at the incorrect diagrams discussed in that post many people, like me, had a WTF moment while others could not quite place their brains on what it was that troubled them about what they saw. I hope in exposing the incorrect nature of one of these mind-bending, eye-twisting blots that I can help readers to understand the long-term implications of not challenging such incorrect material and thus motivate them to greater concern for the standard of maths currently being delivered by some schools and personnel, perhaps even to your own children.
I wish to make it clear that this article is not a personal attack upon anyone named or otherwise referenced. Michaela Community School say they welcome debate on their methods so I invite them to consider this a contribution to that debate and not to repeat their spectacle from December. To debate Michaela’s methods in lieu of any hard performance data we must be able to present the bones & sinews of those methods for examination, their pedagogy & their practice.
It is worth replying to the following comment in a full post, given the interest this issue has generated among teachers since I first raised it.
Couldn’t the home visits just be the salary of a part-time attendance officer of sorts? Would explain the costs staying the same as numbers increased if it’s being spent on a person!
Michaela Community School’s Pupil Premium spend for its two years of operation from 2014 to 2016
As I pointed out in my last post, Michaela Community School’s Pupil Premium impact figures are the antipode of evidential, undermining Michaela’s frequent & loud claims to statistical success, but what truly mystifies is Michaela’s Pupil Premium spend, since opening in 2014, of an even £20,000.00 attributed to “Home Visits“. In their first year of operation the spend works out to almost £170.00 worth of “Home Visits” per Pupil Premium child.
Obligatory Medieval image tangentially related to content intended to imply scholarly authority and continuity of traditional virtues. Bow down before me, thou varlet.
What can be said about Michaela Community School? Many things but I will begin at the point my charitable view ended, and by serendipity this highlights Michaela’s public use of questionable numbers.