[written by Bernard Trafford]
The educational world is awash with research. So it should be: how can we be serious about the business of learning if we are not studying it and learning from as well as about it?
But my heart sinks as much as anyone else’s when I see yet another bit of research published. A standby ploy in my Journal column is to start with the latest bit of research that proves what Basil Fawlty used to call the “bleedin’ obvious”. You know the sort of thing: children learn better if they’ve had a night’s sleep and a good breakfast; if teachers have high expectations of them; if there isn’t unruly behaviour ….
There’s another danger of research, a trap into which policymakers fall all the time. That’s the temptation to cherry-pick just the bits from a major piece of research that accord with our own preconceptions or prejudices. Certainly headmasters aren’t immune to that. I try not to do it too much: I frequently fail!
Still, this blog is about a piece of research worthy of the attention of all of us teachers. The RSA produced the report, Everyone starts with an ‘A’: Applying behavioural insight to narrow the socioeconomic attainment gap in education, back in March. It contains important stuff.
Some colleagues to whom I showed it when I first encountered it were put off by its title, which seems to be all about poverty. But its applicability is much wider than that.
The report reaches some well-founded and thought provoking conclusions. We don’t have to adopt every recommendation wholesale. We don’t have to agree that every aspect of a major report like this is applicable to what we do at the RGS. But I think we totally ignore serious research of this quality at our peril. Indeed, notwithstanding my warnings above, a bit of cherry-picking can be a good thing. What is there in this report that we can try in our own teaching? Are there implications for the way the school is managed? Lots of food for thought here.
If this RGS Learning Blog is to have value, I think we need to link into the research that inspires so many of the fantastic blogs and bloggers ‘out there’ who will be quoted on this page.
So I hope this one is helpful: here’s the link