Sharing the treasures of educational research
As teachers, we owe it to our students to employ methods that have the evidence to back them up. When we utilise ineffective practices, we are robbing children of their potential. I am continually faced with the results: students who arrive at secondary school unable to read, solely because of the quality of the instruction that they have received. Ineffective practices such as Brain Gym® have prospered because of the naivety of parts of the teaching profession.
It has been encouraging to see the growth of a movement such as Research Ed recently. It shows that there are teachers who want to know more about what really works. While, at last year’s conference in London, we were rightly cautioned against putting too much faith in educational research, there is in fact excellent, replicated, generalisable research that can be applied in practical ways to the classroom. I know this because it is what I have done in my work, and I have seen the impact on students. I am happy to claim excellent results, not on the basis that I am special, but that the research that the programme is built on is of excellent quality.
Twitter has proven to be a lifeline in connecting with like-minded people in education. Sharing the treasures we have discovered, debating questions, and clarifying language are all part of the healthy dialogue that should be part of a true profession – and for so long these kinds of debates have been missing from schools (at least, the ones I have worked in).
Putting together this library of Professional Reading pages began as an attempt to archive papers that had been deeply buried in my memory, and to allow easy retrieval when the occasion arose. Twitter conversations called for others to be able to benefit from the work of ground-breaking researchers. The first version was launched on the website nine months ago while I continued to search out and add to the collection. Just in time for the New Year, an expanded and re-organised version is now up on the site. The aim is to allow teachers to encounter research-based practices that have the power to transform lives, and to learn more about how to evaluate research so they are not at the mercy of those who solemnly intone, “The research says . . .”
I know that many people have found it useful so far. I hope that many more will benefit in the coming year. To get you started, check out the link to Pamela Snow’s excellent blog post on evaluating research – it should be standard content in teacher preparation courses.
Best wishes for 2015!
You may also be interested in: