And now for the (neuro)science

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better

The future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades – Timbuk 3

I am no scientist. I’ll say that again because it is important. I am no scientist.

We are now at the absolute nadir of educational thinking. Greater minds of mine work long hours for little pay to debunk all kinds of thinking that has gone before. Eminent minds used to think that’s some branches of neuroscience were a thing but now that thinking has changed. I’m interested as to why…

Have we, as a species, become more suspicious of learned thinking? Are we too critical in thought and now, in these days if of all information being readily available at our fingertips, unable to accept things at face value?

Take for example the EEF.  As a profession we are supposedly encouraged to engage with research, use it to inform our practice and make us better teachers.  But, as Andrew Old postulates here, what if the research is wrong?

Maybe we need to take all research with a pinch of salt; after all, no research has been conducted in my classroom on the effects of teaching Maths in the 45 minutes after the children return from swimming on a Wednesday afternoon.  Perhaps we need to engage with research more and accept that it might be correct in a particular setting.

This is where the work of the EEF must be contextualised.  It is easy to just read the headlines and decide that this is a path to follow because “research” says so.  What we need to do is read the reports more fully, seeing how it can apply to our classrooms and what we can cherry-pick.

If we want a more research-led profession then this is what we need to be doing.  Let’s for a moment compare ourselves with medics.  Not so long ago, tourniquets were seen as a bad thing.  Emergency medics removed them from their kit because improper use caused more harm than correct use was doing good.  Step forward 15 or so years and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that tourniquets are a good thing if applied carefully in cases of traumatic bleeding.  Simply put, tourniquets have saved lives.  They are now seen as essential kit for paramedics and are now carried once more in ambulances and rapid response vehicles.  So what changed?

Attitudes towards research changed, coupled with the practical application of the research in field conditions.  This is how we inform our practice.  What we shouldn’t seek to do is demonsise the research of our learned friends, who are simply researching what others suggest at the end of the day.  What we could do is seek to support or, in true scientific fashion, seek to disprove.

There’s the science bit…


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