Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

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elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:43 am

yvonne meyer wrote:
If you think every pupil should have advanced mathematical skills, then Singapore still has a long way to go. If you need around 20% of pupils to excel in this area, then the UK isn't doing so badly.
Elsie, this is a good example of how you get confused about the point of schooling. TIMSS tests students @ Grades 4 & 8. At these Grade levels, the point of testing is not to see how many students have "advanced mathematical skills" but to see how many students have master the syllabus to a level that allows them to continue to access the syllabus subsequent years.
Yvonne I was responding to this point you made earlier:
The latest results from TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study, 2011)
Quote:
The five East Asian countries had the largest percentages of students reaching the Advanced International Benchmark. Singapore had 43 percent of their students reach the Advanced International Benchmark, followed by Korea (39%), Hong Kong SAR (37%), Chinese Taipei (34%), and Japan (30%).
Northern Ireland was next with 24 percent, then England, 18 percent, followed by a group of eight countries with 10 to 13 percent.
In case you miss the point, Singapore (most schools teach in English) was able to get 43% of its students into the highest level of maths whereas England was able to get a mere 18% of its students into the highest level of maths.
Those figures are not the same ones as you subsequently quote, and the point you make has changed completely:
At Grade 4, 6% of Singapore students failed to reach the level allows them to access the curriculum in subsequent years.
At Grade 4, 22% of English students failed to reach the level allows them to access the curriculum in subsequent years.
So 22% of students in England, by the time they are in Grade 4, have missed the Education bus and will make no further progress in maths without intensive remediation which we know is rarely forthcoming.
As I've pointed out before I am not defending or justifying poor maths teaching. However, in English schools the system doesn't work like that. A failure to reach an expected level of attainment doesn't mean students can't 'access the curriculum'. Maths doesn't work like that either. A low score in mathematical attainment in Year 4 doesn't mean the student can't make further progress, nor that they have 'missed the Education bus'. You are now displaying your ignorance about how the curriculum works - and about how knowledge works.
78% of Singapore students reach the 'high' and 'advanced' levels.
49% of English students reach the levels 'high' and 'advanced' levels.

Are you suggesting that 51% of English students are not capable of doing the basic maths required in Grade 4? Are more then half of all English students too thick to understand simple fractions and will happily go through life not being able to divide something in half?
Can we clarify something? Above, you said that 22% of English students 'failed to reach the level allows them to access the curriculum in subsequent years'. Now you are saying that 51% of them didn't attain 'high' or 'advanced' levels and suggesting that 'high' and 'advanced' levels involve understanding simple fractions. Are you sure about that?
The results in Grade 8 are even more devestating for England.

By Grade 8, Singapore has 78% of students performing at the highest 2 levels while in England only 32% reach these levels.
Again, I am not defending poor maths teaching. But the question still remains of what proportion of students should be attaining high levels in Maths. What figure are we all aiming for and why?
What I was commenting on was Old Andrew's perception of what constituted a 'good' maths lesson - that it would likely involve powerpoint slides, didactic teaching and would probably be boring. He clearly felt the algebra lesson was 'gimmicky' even though it was obviously a perfectly effective way of teaching children about algebraic notation. I think this says more about Old Andrew's understanding of mathematics than anything else.
The perjorative language you use to describe effective teacher-directed instruction and the unfounded confidence you have in the 'discovery' method demonstrates your determination to advocate your personal beliefs and to disparage effective instruction.
No it doesn't.
Quoted from ED Hirsch
Child-centered schooling. (Sometimes called student-centered education.)

Educators preferring this philosophy believe they should "teach the child, not the subject." They reject the idea of lectures, drills, and rote learning because, according to them, it ignores the "feelings" and "individuality" of the child. Therefore, child-centered educators caricaturize anyone who favors a focus on subject matter as inhumane. Hirsch suggests that "on the contrary, ... children are more interested by good subject-matter teaching than by an affectively oriented, child-centered classroom. The anti-subject matter position is essentially anti-intellectual."
If that's what Hirsch said, my only comment is that he doesn't understand child-centred education either. That extract is a sweeping generalisation if ever I saw one.
Constructivism

This term is used to give progressivist education ideas a "spurious scientific-sounding authority." Proponents of constructivism suggest that the only knowledge worth acquiring is that which a student finds for one's self because it is more likely to be remembered and used. Hirsch recognizes that this kind of knowledge is useful. However, he also claims that "both discovery learning and guided learning" are actually "constructivist," so the term doesn't add anything to the discussion
'Constructivism' is a well-established term for a biological phenomenon. It's quite possible that people who use the term in education don't understand it, but since the biological definition encompasses all types of learning (including rote, drill etc) all educational methods are constructivist by definition.
Discovery learning

This teaching method offers students projects to work on rather than textbooks to read. Teachers feel that students will be more likely to remember what they learn from the experience than they would from reading and regurgitating facts. Hirsh agrees that discovery learning plays a vital role in a child's education, however, he describes two serious flaws in using this method exclusively: (1) Students sometimes miss the discovery they were supposed to make and sometimes even make incorrect discoveries. Thus, a definitive goal must be set in the beginning. If the goal is not achieved, the teacher must use direct teaching. (2) Discovery learning is inefficient. Some students never gain the knowledge they were seeking, and even if they do the process is very slow and time-consuming.
I think that's what I said earlier. Except that I wouldn't agree about the goals - students often make discoveries they weren't supposed to make, but are perfectly valid discoveries.

Where did you get these quotes from? Not from Hirsch, obviously.

elsie

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by kenm » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:51 am

elsiep wrote:'Constructivism' is a well-established term for a biological phenomenon. It's quite possible that people who use the term in education don't understand it, but since the biological definition encompasses all types of learning (including rote, drill etc) all educational methods are constructivist by definition.
Since I cannot recall reading the term in any of the c. 6000 Scientific American articles that I have read since 1960 (of which about 1 in 10 on biological subjects), I thought I would check its meaning in Wikipedia. I found it in the following contexts:

Art

Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th century, influencing major trends such as Bauhaus and the De Stijl movement.

International relations

Constructivism is the claim that significant aspects of international relations are historically and socially contingent, rather than inevitable consequences of human nature or other essential characteristics of world politics.

Learning theory

Constructivism is a theory to explain how knowledge is constructed in the human being when information comes into contact with existing knowledge that had been developed by experiences. It has its roots in cognitive psychology and biology and an approach to education that lays emphasis on the ways knowledge is created in order to adapt to the world. Constructs are the different types of filters we choose to place over our realities to change our reality from chaos to order. Von Glasersfeld describes constructivism as “a theory of knowledge with roots in philosophy, psychology, and cybernetics”. Constructivism has implications to the theory of instruction. Discovery learning, hands-on, experiential, collaborate, project-based, tasked-based are a number of application that base teaching and learning.

Mathematics

In the philosophy of mathematics, constructivism asserts that it is necessary to find (or "construct") a mathematical object to prove that it exists. When one assumes that an object does not exist and derives a contradiction from that assumption, one still has not found the object and therefore not proved its existence, according to constructivism. This viewpoint involves a verificational interpretation of the existence quantifier, which is at odds with its classical interpretation.

[...]

Constructivism is often identified with intuitionism, although intuitionism is only one constructivist program. Intuitionism maintains that the foundations of mathematics lie in the individual mathematician's intuition, thereby making mathematics into an intrinsically subjective activity. Other forms of constructivism are not based on this viewpoint of intuition, and are compatible with an objective viewpoint on mathematics.

Psychology [I suspect mostly psychotherapy, since I never heard of it in my introduction to experimental psychology]

In psychology, constructivism concerns the world of constructivist psychologies. Many schools of psychotherapy self-define themselves as “constructivist”. Although extraordinarily different in their therapeutic techniques, they are all connected by a common critique to previous standard approaches and by shared assumptions about the constructive nature of knowledge. In particular, the critique is aimed at the “associationist” postulate of empiricism, “by which the mind is conceived as a passive system that gathers its contents from its environment and, through the act of knowing, produces a copy of the order of reality. In contrast, constructivism is an epistemological premise grounded on the assertion that, in the act of knowing, it is the human mind that actively gives meaning and order to that reality to which it is responding”.

Architecture

Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose.

Epistemology

Constructivist epistemology is an epistemological perspective in philosophy about the nature of scientific knowledge. Constructivists maintain that scientific knowledge is constructed by scientists and not discovered from the world. Constructivists argue that the concepts of science are mental constructs proposed in order to explain sensory experience. Another important tenet of Constructivist theory is that there is no single valid methodology in science, but rather a diversity of useful methods. Constructivism is opposed to positivism, which is a philosophy that holds that the only authentic knowledge is based on actual sense experience and what other individuals tell us is right and wrong.

Constructivism has roots in chemistry, education and social constructivism.

[...]

It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender, as well as tables, chairs and atoms are socially constructed.

Teaching

Constructivist teaching is based on constructivist learning theory. Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction as opposed to passively receiving information. Learners are the makers of meaning and knowledge. Constructivist teaching fosters critical thinking, and creates motivated and independent learners. This theoretical framework holds that learning always builds upon knowledge that a student already knows; this prior knowledge is called a schema. Because all learning is filtered through pre-existing schemata, constructivists suggest that learning is more effective when a student is actively engaged in the learning process rather than attempting to receive knowledge passively.[1] A wide variety of methods claim to be based on constructivist learning theory. Most of these methods rely on some form of guided discovery where the teacher avoids most direct instruction and attempts to lead the student through questions and activities to discover, discuss, appreciate, and verbalize the new knowledge.

[1. I note that this assertion could be confirmed or contradicted by experiment]

Sociology

Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructivism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture of this sort, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture on many levels. Its origins are largely attributed to Lev Vygotsky.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by volunteer » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:03 am

Sorry I failed to get to grips with all the various shades of constructivism on my ou course last year.

I just wanted to say that the algebra lessons may have been adequate but the excitement with which ofsted seemed to imply to us they were way better than a lot of maths lessons they see made me shudder. Either there are a lot of less than mediocre maths lessons happening out there, or ofsted is rather over-critical of the majority of maths teaching taking place today.

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by chew8 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:15 am

This posting of mine follows on from Debbie's last two postings rather than from later postings.

Debbie has now given two examples of detail in recent Ofsted inspection reports. Do these really illustrate a general characteristic of such reports, however?
This is what Debbie originally wrote:Ofsted reports consist of a formula which describes in great detail events in the lesson - the teacher did or said this or that and the pupils did this and that.

This is used to make a point and avoids a method of describing what the inspector observed was 'dull', or 'boring', or 'uninspiring', or 'ineffective for half of the class', or the 'behaviour management was dire'.

So, by using detailed description the inspectors want to get a message across without using language which is outright transparent and damning.
Is it fair to say that Ofsted reports typically use detailed description of what happens in lessons to convey disapproval 'without using 'damning' language?

I’m just asking whether Debbie's comments are sufficiently true of Ofsted reports in general to justify the particular criticisms she makes.

Jenny C.

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Susan Godsland » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:02 pm

Thought I'd add this article to the thread -pointed out to me by Francoise Appy on twitter. Thank you, Francoise.

Putting Students on the Path to Learning

The Case for Fully Guided Instruction

https://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducat ... /Clark.pdf

chew8
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by chew8 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:58 pm

In the article for which Susan gives a link, the authors distinguish between ‘novices’ and ‘experts’. They say that ‘while experts often thrive without much guidance, nearly everyone else thrives when provided with full, explicit instructional guidance...’.

In the area of reading instruction (particularly, perhaps, with synthetic phonics) I think that there is a sort of in-between point at which children are no longer novices, even though they are not yet experts. At this point, they start self-teaching – David Share talks about this in his 1995 article ‘Phonological recoding and self-teaching: sine qua non of reading acquisition’ (http://www.ltl.appstate.edu/reading_res ... rticle.pdf)

On a slightly different tack: the view that toddlers learn spoken language without direct instruction has always puzzled me, because it seems to me that adults actually provide a lot of direct instruction, at least when children start saying their first words – we say the words very clearly and often repeatedly to help children get the pronunciation right. Again though, I think they do reach a point where they start self-teaching – just hearing others talking is enough to enable them to pick up new words and the underlying principles of stringing words together. I’m noticing this with my grandson, who is now 3 years 3 months old.

Jenny C.

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by geraldinecarter » Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:42 pm

Debbie quoted this from Ofsted report:
The spiritual development of pupils is further enhanced by planned activities in the
formal curriculum. For example, reception children went for a walk around the school to look
for new life and were delighted at finding tadpoles and newts in the pond and blossom on the
trees. Having listened to the story about Badger’s Parting Gift, which deals sensitively with
the subject of death, younger pupils worked in small groups to discuss and share their
experiences about loss. Older pupils in Years 5 and 6 listened to Orinoco Flow by Enya and
Die Moldau by Smetana when learning about rivers, and wrote about the feelings and imagery
created by the music.
This is surely what we'd like Ofsted to do. So refreshing after all those dead-men-walking reports - what a huge amount can be learned about a school from such tiny extracts from the report. If schools SATs results are checked and are healthy, what a relief to find such creativity existing side by side with good foundational teaching.

But Ofsted's over-praising of poor instruction, allowing videos to be put out in their name with dubious practice is wrong. Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:16 pm

Susan Godsland wrote:Thought I'd add this article to the thread -pointed out to me by Francoise Appy on twitter. Thank you, Francoise.

Putting Students on the Path to Learning

The Case for Fully Guided Instruction

https://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducat ... /Clark.pdf

All I can say in response is what I said in this thread;

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5242&p=41598&hilit=warehouse#p41598

elsie

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:24 pm

chew8 wrote: On a slightly different tack: the view that toddlers learn spoken language without direct instruction has always puzzled me, because it seems to me that adults actually provide a lot of direct instruction, at least when children start saying their first words – we say the words very clearly and often repeatedly to help children get the pronunciation right. Again though, I think they do reach a point where they start self-teaching – just hearing others talking is enough to enable them to pick up new words and the underlying principles of stringing words together. I’m noticing this with my grandson, who is now 3 years 3 months old.

Jenny C.
I think that's because sticking a label on something doesn't make it clear-cut. Natural learning doesn't fall neatly into categories; it's messy and trial-and-error and ad hoc.

elsie

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palisadesk
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by palisadesk » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:50 pm

Jenny C. wrote:On a slightly different tack: the view that toddlers learn spoken language without direct instruction has always puzzled me, because it seems to me that adults actually provide a lot of direct instruction
An excellent (and though scholarly, very readable and engaging) book on this topic is Ernst Moerck's The Guided Acquisition of First Language Skills:

http://www.amazon.com/Acquisition-Langu ... 1567504698
(this book is expensive if purchased new, but I got it quite reasonably from a used bookseller -- alibris or abebooks)

The innate or naturalistic view of language development has not totally withstood empirical scrutiny over time. Great strides in understanding language development and how it often needs to be taught, not merely educed, has come as a result of the work with children with autism and/or specific language impairments. No matter whose data are used, the number of these children in the general population is on the rise. Whether the failure to acquire language is presumed due to neurological or environmental causes, much can be done to facilitate children's cognitive development and communication skills through direct teaching.

Susan S.

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by chew8 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:29 pm

palisadesk wrote:Whether the failure to acquire language is presumed due to neurological or environmental causes, much can be done to facilitate children's cognitive development and communication skills through direct teaching.
I agree, but my point was really that even when children's oral language development is normal, some learning involves self-teaching rather than direct instruction. In my experience one doesn't plan the self-teaching: it just seems to happen - and it needs to happen as there is more for children to learn than can be conveyed by direct instruction.

Jenny C.

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palisadesk
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by palisadesk » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:57 pm

Moerk's work makes the same points as Jenny, but illustrates in great detail how parental teaching (of normal children -- the focus of his work) propels and facilitates the "self-teaching." And of course, for those who do not meet the criteria for "normal," direct teaching is even more valuable; indeed, critical.

Susan S.

chew8
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by chew8 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:10 pm

Yes, I can see how parental teaching would 'facilitate and propel' the self-teaching. Similarly I think that if the direct teaching of reading and spelling is sensible, it can facilitate self-teaching.

Jenny C.

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by kenm » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:07 am

geraldinecarter wrote:Ken - thank you...
... Knowledge is assured belief, and for a rationalist is assured by reference to the external world. ...
I have corrected the bolded phrase to "for an empiricist".
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:46 pm

Re Ofsted reporting:

In response to Jenny's scrutiny of more recent Ofsted school reports, I've spent some time looking at the changes in the reporting style.

I note that Ofsted school reports are now looking considerably shorter and the tendency to include detailed comments on individual lessons has diminished considerably.

I suggest that what is noteworthy, however, is the continuation of Ofsted's tendency to use specific circumstances to highlight a point.

In the Ofsted videos 'Literacy: a non-negotiable', we see examples of individual lessons - or detailed snapshots within those lessons.

These include commentary and visual representation (footage) which Ofsted is endeavouring to use to 'make a point'. I would suggest that some of the details we see are worryingly misleading.

I would also ask what point it is that Ofsted is actually trying to make.

If 'entertaining' practice is linked with 'outstanding' schools, then surely it would be easy to conclude that Ofsted does indeed favour entertainment over simple and 'direct' routines and practice - and has used 'detail' to make this point.

So, the question remains as to whether Ofsted is muddying the waters inadvertently regarding the omission of showing simple phonics routines and practices - or whether extraneous, entertaining phonics practices are being promoted.

I mentioned in a previous posting that Ofsted used the technique of reporting the details of individual lessons to make a point about the provision (although much less so in recent school reporting). Linking this to the Ofsted videos, it is not unsurprising for people to think the details in the videos are designed to put across a message.

But what message?

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