Blog of the Week: 5 June 2020 – Why I’m no longer talking to white people about racism

Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates our experiences. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals like they can no longer hear us.

This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is norm and all others deviate from it. At best, white people have been taught not to mention that people of colour are ‘different’ in case it offends us. They truly believe that the experiences of their life as a result of their skin colour can and should be universalised. I just can’t engage with the bewilderment and the defensiveness as they try to grapple with the fact that not everyone experiences …

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Blog of the Week: 5 June 2020 – Business as usual? Race, white privilege and COVID-19

By Professor Kalwant Bhopal, Professor of Education and Social Justice & Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Education, University of Birmingham

“If we are serious about addressing such inequalities and how white privilege works, we must look to improving the lives of BME communities…”

Recent figures released from the ONS suggest that the number of COVID-19 deaths amongst members of the BME community is much higher compared to those from white and other backgrounds. A report published by Public Health England yesterday confirms this. The unsurprising consequence of the global pandemic seemingly accentuating inequalities that are already present in society. Marginalised and poor communities from BME groups are being further disadvantaged, as government responses to COVID-19 mirror the same inequalities that inform all aspects of social policy.

I argue this is no accident but rather, an extension of the perpetuation of structural and institutional racism in a neo-liberal society. Some commentators have appeared bewildered by evidence the virus is having a greater affect on BME groups. Frankly this suggests they are unaware of many aspects of daily life in the UK. Unaware for example that BME groups are more likely to be employed by the NHS …

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Blog of the Week: 22 May 2020 – Standing in awe.


What incredible times these are.  Against a backdrop of ignorant media commentary and unwarranted pressure from overly powerful people who don’t teach or run schools,   shouting from the sidelines, teachers and school leaders are doing such a phenomenal job.  It’s an immense task – reframing how schools and colleges operate, wrestling with a new raft of safety and learning challenges, external demands, parental expectations, technological and resource constraints- to provide what their students and their communities need as best they can.   And I’m in awe.  Pure and simple.

I’ve had this feeling many times before that, given what someone has achieved, you just have to stand back in awe; to marvel at what has been done; to express some gratitude and applaud.  This has been magnified since I left the frontline myself.  I know how hard it can be,  how difficult it is to get right; I know…

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Blog of the Week: Low stakes Quizzing and Retrieval Practice 4


You can find the first three posts about retrieval practice here: one, two, three.

Everyone seems to be doing retrieval practice now and there is an abundance of research  in support of the effectiveness of self-testing as a learning strategy, particularly with regards to increasing long term retention. Ever since retrieval practice has become popular amongst teachers, there has been a notable concern about how it is being approached and whether or not it really is as effective as its proponents would claim. One line of criticism is that the questions-often closed, recall questions-are nothing like the final performance that students encounter when they take an exam. Merely asking students something along the lines of ‘What word means excessive pride or ambition?’  is, on its own, not going to help students with their understanding of Macbeth. However, understanding the meaning of ‘hubris’ (even in this most restrictive…

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Blog of the Week: 1 May 2020 – Curriculum is for ever – but not how you think

Thinking about curriculum as a priority is relatively new for most of us, having lived through the poundland pedagogy years, and so it’s easy to view it as an important job to be started and finished. But this is wrong. Curriculum isn’t a task or a project. It’s not like a house you build and then move into, no further work needed. Sure you can have, and many schools and departments need, a project of “curriculum reform”. But once it’s done, it’s not done. Once you have thought hard about your curriculum, sequenced it, and codified it through booklets or whatever- you are not finished. You have plugged the gap and made significant progress- but really, you are just beginning.

The strongest departments are those with not only a well-thought out and codified plan for curriculum, but a continuous culture of discussion, debate, disagreement and exploration in the field of…

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Blog of the Week: 24th April 2020 – Curriculum metaphors: Journeys

Birmingham Teacher

Lakoff & Johnson in Metaphors We Live By (1980 and 2003), state that “Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” They argue that our conceptual system is not something we’re normally aware of, but that one way to find out about our conceptual system is by looking at language. I have irreverently had a look at elements of our conceptual system in education before. I was fascinated and frustrated by the seemingly all-pervasive medicalised language in teaching. What I found was funny and interesting – and very revealing. You can find the blog post here. It’s an old post but the pathologic language still lingers in education like a cold sore. Tom Rees, Executive Director of School Leadership, Ambition Institute, explores the linguistic concepts associated with transformational leadership. You can find his blog here. I am interested in…

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Blog of the Week: 27th March 2020 – Making meaning

Making meaning is the core principle in learning, on which all other principles build. Consequently, a lot has been said in education about how meaning making looks like in the classroom, what is meaningful learning, deep processing, transferable knowledge and how to achieve them. And yet it is also an elusive concept: the operational definition of ‘meaning’ is nontrivial and occasionally the importance of meaning is shadowed by other (also important) concepts in learning.

I wish to share here my operational conceptualization of ‘meaning making’, then highlight two instances where meaning is sometimes shadowed: when discussing Cognitive Load and Retrieval Practice, and altogether make the case for why we should consider meaning first.

What is ‘Meaning Making’?

Processing information meaningfully is known as the key factor to remembering learned information for the long-term, as was formulated by Craik and Lockhart (1972) in the …


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