Monthly Archives: February 2019

Blog of the Week: The 3D curriculum that promotes remembering


In my previous blog I explained about how memory works, and how teachers can use strategies from cognitive science such as retrieval practice to promote long term learning. After all, the learned curriculum is the only curriculum that actually counts in the end.

The curriculum is the means by which we ensure that all our children get their fair share of the rich cultural inheritance our world affords.  A good curriculum empowers children with the knowledge they are entitled to: knowledge that will nourish both them and the society of which they are members. Because, as Angela Rayner, Labour shadow education secretary says, knowledge belongs to the many, not the few.

But if children don’t remember what we have taught them, then even the richest curriculum is pointless. Knowledge can’t empower if it is forgotten. So as well as thinking about what is the richest, best material to put into…

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Blog of the Week: 8 February 2019 – Core and hinterland: What’s what and why it matters

A Chemical Orthodoxy

In 1918, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to a war criminal.

In the early years of the 20th century, German scientist Fritz Haber developed a process to artificially synthesise ammonia, a vital component of agricultural fertilisers. A reaction that changed the world, his process drove a ballooning in industrial agriculture and, with the fullness of time, allowed for a population explosion and the pulling of billions of people out of poverty.

But Haber’s oeuvre extended from the globally beneficial to the sinister. A fervent nationalist, in World War I he turned his brilliance to the German war effort and pioneered the use of chemical weaponry on the battlefield, personally supervising the first administration of deadly chlorine gas in the trenches of Flanders.

Despite these contributions to the Fatherland, Haber was forced to leave Germany because he had Jewish ancestry: an ancestry he despised. In a grimly ironic turn…

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Blog of the Week: 1 February 2019 – Forming good habits, breaking bad habits: what works?

Changing behaviour is hard, even when it’s life or death.  Patients undergoing heart bypasses risk another bypass – or death – unless they change how they eat and exercise.  However, just one patient in ten is behaving differently two years after the operation (Deutschman, 2005), because much of our behaviour – at least 40% (Wood, Quinn and Kashy, 2002) – is habitual: our breakfast, commute and start of the work day may not change for years.  The elusiveness of change is therefore “not surprising”; programmes may:

successfully educate and motivate people, especially in the short run. However, when push comes to shove, they often fail at changing actual behaviors and long-term health habits (Wood and Neal, 2016).”

We know we should eat better, exercise more and so on; we do, at least briefly.  But old habits reassert themselves.  For students, sustaining success requires habits …


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