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Blooming Taxonomy

November 12, 2012

Soooo last week I blogged on the new technology that allowed children in rural villages to learn with a tablet and without a teacher, this week I made the mistake of checking out what the ideal lesson was under the new Ofsted guidelines…… mistake…. big mistake.

Have you seen what we are supposed to do now?

Seriously? For every lesson a four page lesson plan? Questions delineated exactly, students mentioned and targeted specifically in the lesson plan?

Don’t get me wrong I have  no objection to preparation, detail or accountability, but anyone who has to follow a 4 page lesson plan can’t teach… and I don’t mean that they are not able to teach per se, only that if you have to keep bobbing back and forth to your lesson plan you won’t get time to communicate and if you actually need a lesson plan like that to communicate, to read from, yeah well maybe you should reconsider your career choice.


But communicate is the crucial word, the crucial element in teaching has to be communication and there is no doubt that while we are told, that we must differentiate and have a plan for every child, we are also told that there is no particular style that any teacher should have: if you are the quiet, sit behind a desk kind, gently whispering your wisdom to a group of enthralled pupils, fine; if you are raucous raconteur of endless anecdotes and jokes (all relevant of course) then good on yer! It should not matter how you communicate (within the realms of human decency of course – torture is out) but only that you do communicate and that the student learns.

Student centred learning is the new mantra. The inspector will be watching the student, not just to see if they are engaged, listening and behaving, but to see if they understand, participate and if they are stretched and challenged. All of this makes perfect sense…except the lesson plan. This kind of  detail for a lesson and targeting individual children cannot be realistic surely? Some of the inspiration for this seems to come from Bloom’s Taxonomy developed in 1956 (now there’s a surprise) the idea is to encourage holistic education, head, heart and action, but the outworking of this theory seems to have led to a blooming of charts colour codes and paperwork.

Being able to interrogate your subject and your students successfully is an essential skill, but any good interviewer will tell you that the secret to good question and answer is not a swathe of delineated questions like the ones above, but the ability to listen and to respond, and for that the paperwork is almost irrelevant.

Aside from the time it takes to compile a lesson based on that kind of detail for each student, teachers are increasingly using school databases to collate information on a child and then augmenting these databases with additional, personal detail. This is a tiny bit Big Brother or so Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch implies, he suggests in an article in The Sunday Times referred to in the Telegraph this week that parents would be shocked at the amount of information teachers compile on children and then upload, in this case to the Capita website where the details of 8 million children and their photographs, and their disciplinary records are kept. Teachers are said to uploading information on pupils to this database, six times a day.

Capita provides a resource for various agencies to access information on a child and because it exists teachers must use it to compile detailed and almost unteachable lesson plans, but how far must this go?

In the old days teachers kept a register, gave a mark and a comment to a student and had time to get to know the student. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no luddite, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t enjoy the opportunities that IT provides, but we should be mastering IT, not IT mastering us. That level of lesson planning is only even half possible because of version tracking and cut and paste, if all we had was pen and paper then the ideal plan would be a neatly written summary, possibly with timings, combined with some ready resources, good subject knowledge and good knowledge of the learners, who needs to ask for more?

The resources pictured above come from the TES Resources site – just look for Ofsted guidelines – good luck!


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