How to Reach Teachers on Different Planets

PW coverMost teachers are not on Twitter excitedly discussing the latest book or blog post to put the nail in the progressive coffin. The vocal online population is not representative of the teaching population at large. I didn’t discover this world until very recently, after the headteacher at my school circulated a reading list containing Seven Myths and Progressively Worse.

It was a revelation to me to find out that there were people out there writing books about education that actually made sense. I had previously avoided such books, because I had the general impression that they were filled with trendy rubbish. When I realised that Robert Peal had first come to prominence through writing a blog, I investigated . . . and since then, well, I have barely paused for breath, as regular readers will have noticed. As I write this, I am standing on a rush hour tube train, trying to keep my balance while I tap away on my phone. I’m that excited about writing about education.

But just six months ago, I had never heard of Daisy Christodoulou or Robert Peal. I viewed educational theorists as people with too much time on their hands who wanted to make my life more complicated and difficult. I initially saw the little pile of recommended books in the corner of the staff room as another demand on my time when I had little enough to spare as it was.

I’m sure there are many teachers out there who feel as I did just a few short months ago. But one of the most inspiring things about what I call the new traditionalism is that there are so many front line teachers getting involved. Whether or not you write a blog or tweet vociferously, you too can help to lift the burden of bad ideas, by challenging them in your classroom practices, and in personal discussions with colleagues. It is this sort of person to person dissemination which often makes the biggest difference. It took a real live human being whom I knew personally to introduce me to the world of Christodoulou, Peal, Hirsch and Willingham. There must be many more teachers out there who would never read a blog, but might well listen to a personal recommendation.

Go forth and do battle with bad ideas!


4 thoughts on “How to Reach Teachers on Different Planets

  1. Not A Secret — Parents Reading Those Books Too

    No one expects the public education system to reform itself when needed. Self-preservation is it’s #1 goal, it seems, NOT the education and well-being of students.

    But it’s not just teachers who are asserting themselves in reform efforts due to this category of books — parents too are anxious to validate their desires for better practice.

    What took you so long with Daisy’s book? Two years ago Hirsch proclaimed her book (Kindle edition) — A Game-Changing Education Book from England.

    Thanks for the list so far and looking forward to you increasing that list in the near future. Update your list in — ESSENTIAL READING.

    Now, here is one FREE for all to download — Clear Teaching: With Direct Instruction

    Written by veteran journalist Shepard Barbash over a period of 10 years, Clear Teaching is a well-researched, highly readable introduction to Direct Instruction (DI), a systematic teaching approach which for more than 40 years has dramatically improved learning outcomes for students of all abilities and from all walks of life. The book looks at the development of DI through the early experiences of its creator, Zig Engelmann; explains the principles that underpin this approach; and looks at DI’s reception in the world of teaching, where it has been effectively shunned despite a formidable research base and example after example of transformative success. ( synopsis)


  2. Another late-adopter of Twitter here for whom it was a very pleasant revelation to discover a group of teacher-bloggers prepared to challenge the sort of progressive orthodoxy that has held sway in each of the three comprehensives in which I have worked over an 17 year career. Keep up the good work!

    Im a Leeds grad too: BA (95), MA (96)


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