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If you feel a bit cross at the presumption of some oik daring to suggest everything you know about education might be wrong, please take it with a pinch of salt. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? is just a title. Of course, you probably think a great many things that aren't wrong. The aim of the book is to help you 'murder your darlings'. David Didau w If you feel a bit cross at the presumption of some oik daring to suggest everything you know about education might be wrong, please take it with a pinch of salt. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? is just a title. Of course, you probably think a great many things that aren't wrong. The aim of the book is to help you 'murder your darlings'. David Didau will question your most deeply held assumptions about teaching and learning, expose them to the fiery eye of reason and see if they can still walk in a straight line after the experience. It seems reasonable to suggest that only if a theory or approach can withstand the fiercest scrutiny should it be encouraged in classrooms. David makes no apologies for this; why wouldn't you be sceptical of what you're told and what you think you know? As educated professionals, we ought to strive to assemble a more accurate, informed or at least considered understanding of the world around us. Here, David shares with you some tools to help you question your assumptions and assist you in picking through what you believe. He will stew findings from the shiny white laboratories of cognitive psychology, stir in a generous dash of classroom research and serve up a side order of experience and observation. Whether you spit it out or lap it up matters not. If you come out the other end having vigorously and violently disagreed with him, you'll at least have had to think hard about what you believe. The book draws on research from the field of cognitive science to expertly analyse some of the unexamined meta-beliefs in education. In Part 1; 'Why we're wrong', David dismantles what we think we know; examining cognitive traps and biases, assumptions, gut feelings and the problem of evidence. Part 2 delves deeper - 'Through the threshold' - looking at progress, liminality and threshold concepts, the science of learning, and the difference between novices and experts. In Part 3, David asks us the question 'What could we do differently?' and offers some considered insights into spacing and interleaving, the testing effect, the generation effect, reducing feedback and why difficult is desirable. While Part 4 challenges us to consider 'What else might we be getting wrong?'; cogitating formative assessment, lesson observation, grit and growth, differentiation, praise, motivation and creativity.


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If you feel a bit cross at the presumption of some oik daring to suggest everything you know about education might be wrong, please take it with a pinch of salt. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? is just a title. Of course, you probably think a great many things that aren't wrong. The aim of the book is to help you 'murder your darlings'. David Didau w If you feel a bit cross at the presumption of some oik daring to suggest everything you know about education might be wrong, please take it with a pinch of salt. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? is just a title. Of course, you probably think a great many things that aren't wrong. The aim of the book is to help you 'murder your darlings'. David Didau will question your most deeply held assumptions about teaching and learning, expose them to the fiery eye of reason and see if they can still walk in a straight line after the experience. It seems reasonable to suggest that only if a theory or approach can withstand the fiercest scrutiny should it be encouraged in classrooms. David makes no apologies for this; why wouldn't you be sceptical of what you're told and what you think you know? As educated professionals, we ought to strive to assemble a more accurate, informed or at least considered understanding of the world around us. Here, David shares with you some tools to help you question your assumptions and assist you in picking through what you believe. He will stew findings from the shiny white laboratories of cognitive psychology, stir in a generous dash of classroom research and serve up a side order of experience and observation. Whether you spit it out or lap it up matters not. If you come out the other end having vigorously and violently disagreed with him, you'll at least have had to think hard about what you believe. The book draws on research from the field of cognitive science to expertly analyse some of the unexamined meta-beliefs in education. In Part 1; 'Why we're wrong', David dismantles what we think we know; examining cognitive traps and biases, assumptions, gut feelings and the problem of evidence. Part 2 delves deeper - 'Through the threshold' - looking at progress, liminality and threshold concepts, the science of learning, and the difference between novices and experts. In Part 3, David asks us the question 'What could we do differently?' and offers some considered insights into spacing and interleaving, the testing effect, the generation effect, reducing feedback and why difficult is desirable. While Part 4 challenges us to consider 'What else might we be getting wrong?'; cogitating formative assessment, lesson observation, grit and growth, differentiation, praise, motivation and creativity.

30 review for What If Everything You Knew about Education Was Wrong?

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I’ve taken a long time over this book but it has been fascinating and very thought provoking. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone working in the education system.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Winters

    Excellent treatment of research in cognitive psychology and the implications for teaching and learning. Witty, sometimes sharp, but always thought provoking. You may not agree with everything, but you will be challenged to think.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Filip

    Thought provoking and sometimes opinionated, but thoroughly backed by research. A must-read for aspiring teachers or people with a general interest in education!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Henrik

    Gav mig det som lärarutbildningen saknar.

  5. 5 out of 5

    RhysEvans

    Holy cow! I finished reading this towards the end of an atypical PGCE year and I found it really refreshing. It's given me a lot of ideas on how to improve my teaching as an NQT and honestly I feel that the time I invested reading this and absorbing the material will probably prove to be more beneficial than the 6 weeks of placement I missed. I can't believe that it isn't recommended on my uni. reading list, but then again it does challenge a lot of the education trends that were promoted throug Holy cow! I finished reading this towards the end of an atypical PGCE year and I found it really refreshing. It's given me a lot of ideas on how to improve my teaching as an NQT and honestly I feel that the time I invested reading this and absorbing the material will probably prove to be more beneficial than the 6 weeks of placement I missed. I can't believe that it isn't recommended on my uni. reading list, but then again it does challenge a lot of the education trends that were promoted throughout the year such as differentiation and formative assessment. I would recommend this book to any new teacher and I wish I had read it before I started the course for a number of reasons: 1. Resilience. It probably would have given me more resilience when it came to being assessed . As Didau argues, teacher practice is largely dominated by what feels right and trends which are often not based on either robust studies or sound logic. Further all of us are susceptible to a huge range of biases, so it's therefore no surprise that studies have found grading across schools to be totally inconsistent. It leads you to question why institutions bother with lesson grading in the first place. It is also reassuring knowing that in all probability no two teachers would give you the same grade, because everyone has their own individual rubric. Consequently, it's not worth stressing over grades or negative feedback. 2. Validation. There were so many 'thank you' moments in this book, it's ridiculous. Every piece of advice or education trend that I suspected was dubious throughout my PGCE Didau annihilates. For example, the relentless push for AfL. Every. Single. Lesson. I said to myself we're wasting so much time assessing learning, when we could be teaching. Didau draws on very robust research into how we learn to emphasise that learning doesn't happen on a lesson by lesson basis. The mind is not a storage device. One study suggests to learn a complex new concept, we need to approach it at least in 3 different contexts and occasions for the concept to be transferred from working memory to long term memory. That's just one strand of his argument. And all of his arguments always draw on a wide range of research in cognitive science, psychology and education. 3. Reassurance. At times it was kind of funny reading the book and thinking that everything I've been taught is wrong (a little bit of an exaggeration but not too far off). That might sound frustrating, but I find it reassuring to know there are so many experienced teachers out there who have no idea what they're doing. I'm just one among many who have no idea what they're doing. But hopefully now I'll be a little more informed than most and get off to a good start. 4. Optimism. I'm a lot more optimistic going into my NQT year. I have so many ideas that I want to bring into my teaching and now I'm armed with research to justify my practice. As a PGCE or NQT, it's perfect because all the references you need are listed for you to copy into your essays and portfolios. Additionally, I'm not as daunted about my teaching practice failing to live up to many of the impossible expectations of the latest education trends such as AfL or differentiation, because at least now I can hold my corner and say, 'well what evidence do you have that several differentiated worksheets for each class is going to have a positive effect on learning?' Although, I believe I've chosen a school that is research informed so I'm not anticipating a lot of confrontation. 5. Enjoyable. This is by far the wittiest and most enjoyable education book I've read. Succinct. Compassionate. Quizzical. I wasn't sold on all of his arguments and most people won't be I'm sure, but they're definitely robust and cannot be easily dismissed. Anyone who reviews this book with a short, sweeping generalization is a fool or a child. It's worth investing your time reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Seán Mchugh

    In many ways this book is the epitome of exactly what I dislike about any literature that purports to be written for busy stressed teachers to meaningfully engage with and understand. It’s just soooooo long, the sheer physical weight of the book is oppressive, I’m not sure what paperstock they made it from but it certainly makes the anticipation of tackling it particularly daunting. I feel like this massive tome, can be summed up with my own personal favourite aphorism, FUN OVER FUNCTION, namely In many ways this book is the epitome of exactly what I dislike about any literature that purports to be written for busy stressed teachers to meaningfully engage with and understand. It’s just soooooo long, the sheer physical weight of the book is oppressive, I’m not sure what paperstock they made it from but it certainly makes the anticipation of tackling it particularly daunting. I feel like this massive tome, can be summed up with my own personal favourite aphorism, FUN OVER FUNCTION, namely that really effective learning only happens when teachers focus on what we know works as opposed to caving in to the pressure to focus on performance whether that be the performance of the teacher or the performance of the students, and of course ignoring this is easier said than done, we all like to be praised, but the sad fact is that what really helps students learn is generally not particularly entertaining or enjoyable, or even rewarding at least not until the student looks back on the process and reflects on the price they paid to understand what they now know. I find my tried and tested strategy to maintain my sanity and still ensure I have a solid understanding/awareness of essential texts for my own professional development worked well for this book. Namely I read the introduction, and then I skipped the rest and read the conclusion, and honestly felt like that’s pretty much all most teachers really need. If there are any aspects of the conclusion that you find surprising or questionable then of course you have the option to dig deeper by reading the relevant chapter that each concluding point refers explicitly to. As I spent an inordinate amount of time reading the research and listening to podcasts on all of the topics covered in this book possibly that’s an argument for why I felt I could reasonably skip those sections and save myself a lot of valuable vacation time! In the author’s defence he does layout his key points at the outset enabling you to possibly make some strategic choices about what you will actually read; identifying certain ideas and ways of thinking which he believes are challenging or troublesome: Seeing shouldn’t always result in believing (Chapter 1). We are all victims of cognitive bias (Chapter 2). Compromise doesn't always result in effective solutions (Chapter 4). Evidence is not the same as proof (Chapter 5). Progress is a gradual, non-linear process (Chapters 6 and 7). Learning is invisible (Chapter 8). Current performance is not only a poor indication of learning, it actually seems to prevent it (Chapters 8 and 9). Forgetting aids learning (Chapter 9). Experts and novices learn dififerently (Chapter 10). Making learning more difficult can make it more durable (Chapter 11). For me personally, the highlight of the book was possibly the takedown of high-stakes examinations as a basis for assessing student learning, “External tests can’t be used to measure educational achievement” which for some reason is buried in the appendix, so while I may not have read the majority of this book, I did read most of the appendices! The other interesting argument Didau proposes is right at the outset of the book which is a focus on “threshold concepts” *If a concept is a way of organising and making sense of what is known in a particular field, a threshold concept organises the knowledge and experience which makes an epiphany or eureka moment possible.” I work in a school which values what they call “concept based teaching and learning”, yet I find there is a paucity of any support for this approach in any of the literature, so it was with some surprise and delight that I read his arguments for why identifying these concepts and using them to drive teaching and learning is essential.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Guyada

    Well.. it took me weeks to get through it - I think it is a few books in one really, sometimes too packed with ideas that get lost in the sea. But it is very compelling, ambitious and especially brave in facing some of the fashions of so called modern education. I gave it full marks but I disagree with lots of its conclusions and views. Primarily, it is assuming the school education is a world in itself and the goal of schooling is to become good at studying. It looks at many HOWs sometimes forg Well.. it took me weeks to get through it - I think it is a few books in one really, sometimes too packed with ideas that get lost in the sea. But it is very compelling, ambitious and especially brave in facing some of the fashions of so called modern education. I gave it full marks but I disagree with lots of its conclusions and views. Primarily, it is assuming the school education is a world in itself and the goal of schooling is to become good at studying. It looks at many HOWs sometimes forgetting the WHYs of the whole picture e.i. the life in the community of people who want to have happy lives now, not remembering facts for a long time. Second, it assumes the student more or less as a passive receiver in the scientifically modified system of increasing the amount of knowledge they should be able to demonstrate to prove the system is right. Third, it is a bit selective in what research is to be trusted (usually the papers supporting the authors views) and what not. This is hard to judge as I obviously did not study all the cited papers. But it is a weakness of almost every book on education systems I read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Duregård

    Bästa och mest inspirerande jag läst om och inom pedagogik!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mathijs

    Learning styles, teach to learn/learn to teach, psychology, education

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Yet another guru with another armchair concept. Mandatory schooling? Charged curricula? Stressful exams? That is nothing to Didau. Make it harder! Punish the sinners to get better (dead) angels.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jude Brigley

  12. 5 out of 5

    Theo

  13. 4 out of 5

    James

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wouter Meetsma

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jgibbs

  16. 4 out of 5

    Simon Very

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Debby Mitchell

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zeba Clarke

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna Sandler Wray

  20. 5 out of 5

    Damaru M

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Anderson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roselique

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Pollard

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Teasdale

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carmel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  27. 5 out of 5

    David McGrath

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roisin McNicholas

  29. 4 out of 5

    Olusoji Olaleye

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jake Huckle

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