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‘The nail that sticks out will be hammered down’... Putney High's look at 'Clever Lands'

As we approach the end of another academic year, we thought it fitting to review two academic books which have shaped discussion and debate around education systems, pedagogy, politics and much more, in the last few years.

Two of our teachers kindly led the session - Dr Jane Brandon and Dr Michael Mellor.

  • Focus: We looked at the key themes, impact and take-away’s from two key educational books:

  • Daisy Christodoulou’s ‘Seven Myths About Education’ and

  • Lucy Crehan’s ‘Clever Lands’

I will not do a disservice to Jane and Michael's hard work by re-writing their presentations and therefore I will only share the main highlights with you, as well as bibliographies, so that further reading and exploration into the two topics discussed, can be found.

Please Note: This blog is not a summary of the books. For more information please contact Putney High and we will be happy to share the full presentation with you. Instead this Teaching + Learning session gave us the chance to look at their work and discuss the implications their ideas has on our school contact.

1. Clever Lands:

What do each of these countries education systems look like? What are their styles and typical methods of practice? And more importantly... what might some of those systems look like in our British context?

For example, how fascinating it is to think that in Finland all students are screened for SEND support before they start formal schooling at seven. What are the benefits and problems for students, parents, schools and even the economy of the country? What impact would it have on the British economy given our denser population figures?

Similarly, if we look at the Japanese model of collective responsibility...

... how could their ideas effect the behaviour of students, not only in the classroom, but in the wider society as well? We may not initially like the idea of obedience and as a nation we embrace individuality and freedom, but have Japan got it right in encouraging an element of conformity.

Jane highlighted the overall principles summarised by Lucy Crehan for us to consider further:

2. ‘Seven Myths About Education’:

Michael kindly broke down each Myth (above), as presented by Daisy in her book, and while I won't go through them all, I will touch on the implications...

From these here comes a difficulty... or at least an important consideration...

If we are in an age of encouraging students to recognise how they learn, to consider the value of memory alongside understanding and to take great ownership of the research they do into their subjects, then how can we ensure that we balance this with teaching facts (Myth 1)? at Putney we value the Science of Learning very highly but we have to be careful to consider other research evidence to ensure we are teaching out students in line with other schools of thought as well.

Therefore, I leave you with two questions (one per book):

  1. Clever Lands: What can you take from each of the countries educational system styles? And how can we combine their ideas with our own British system?

  2. Seven Myths: How do we go about re-evaluating and challenging what we've taken from our PGCE training? As well as the kind of lessons we think OfStEd want to see...? We do not necessarily want to rip it up and start again but there is surely room to meet in the middle somewhere?

This was our last Teaching + Learning meeting of the Academic Year. We are excited to re-start again in September but in the mean time we will be putting together a summer reading list so that we can come back in September with ideas to share.

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