In recent years teachers have seen fidget spinners, Pokémon, Fortnite and squishies fads become all-consuming passions for some of our pupils. But educators are not immune to fads and some even seem cyclical, coming back again and again.
But what impact does the current ‘in vogue’ practise have on the pupils and does continuous change confuse what you do in the classroom, or innovate?
In this #UKEdChat discussion we talked about fads, myths and research in education to try to find the truth – if the truth exists at all.
- What teaching practices that you have seen do you consider a myth or fad?
- What practices do you use in the classroom which others might or have called a fad/myth?
- Can something be one person’s myth be another person’s useful pedagogical practice and both are right?
- What is the role of research in myth-busting, especially when controversial myths/ideas stem from academic research in the first place?
- When something has been debunked it seems to take a long time to disseminate thought the profession. Why is this and how can this be quicker?
- Whose responsibility is it, within a school, to keep up-to-date with research and strategies that prove to offer the most impact?
- What are the dangers of teaching/learning myths? Aren’t they just one tool in the toolbox?
- What myths ‘about’ teaching and schools persist in the general population?
Some schools are like dogs with a bone – once they pick up on a fad, they are so keen to impress that they instil methods onto their teachers, without fully analysing any research or critiques. They are so fully invested in the idea, and scared of inspection outcomes, that they don’t let go of the idea.
Such ideas considered as a myth or fad included:
Indeed, some fads are truly worthless, but can be context dependent to some extent. When something small that works for one thing gets put in a box and people try to sell it as ‘this will fix all your problems’. Things that work in one subject/topic might not, and should not, be used all the time for the sake of it. Every teacher is a person with different charisma and personality. One method fits better with one personality, another with another personality. Everything is useful in some way. If we never try new things we never know what works for us! Keep adapting, keep trying new things! Don’t religiously stick to just one approach. You could have a really good idea, but if it’s not thought through or implemented hastily without diligence, it won’t work as effectively as in another context. You have to do what is right and what works for the students in your setting.
Research, and engaging with the research, is crucial. The promotion of concepts that create more work for everyone can be avoided if people are close to quality research. Take that a step further – if colleagues actually complete action research, then you start to mould an impact focused culture. It is important for teachers to remember that things are always changing, with new practices emerging all the time, just as they are in other fields and professions. Everyone is responsible for staying aware of these developments and doing research.
You have to accept that there is no magic bullet. You know you own classes and students.
(Summary compiled by Colin Hill)