There are some right wallies online. They’ll tell you outright that students don’t need to remember anything, that they can look up anything they need online. They’ll tell you that dates and events and chronology are just stuff, that students get clogged up with. These people are daft. But they’re quite few in number.
A very small number of other people have made reputations or careers out of pointing out the daft people, so that we can all laugh at them and feel better about ourselves. This is called twitter.
The much more numerous group are those who half remember stuff they learned on PGCE, or some course or other, or when that consultant came in and did INSET. They hear a VAK idea, or see someone using coloured hats in a lesson and they think ‘this is cool’ or ‘hey, that looks fun’, and they give it a go. Sometimes this seems to ‘work’, in that the students seem to enjoy it, or it makes the teacher feel good about themselves, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes these people then post their ideas on twitter, which is fortunate for the people who made careers out of pointing out daft ideas on twitter. Otherwise they would run out of people to point and laugh at.
Then there are people who read books and articles and blogs about teaching their subject and others. They are sometimes caught up in ‘good ideas’ that they’ve seen. Hey – it’s nice to be enthusiastic sometimes. Often however, they see something about learning styles, or grading, or writing comments only in one colour, or APP or other things, and they say ‘I won’t be doing that in my classroom’. Instead of saying ‘yeah, I have a growth mindset ethos in my classroom’ they will read Dweck and find out what that really means. Those people sometimes agonise over lesson plans, or they see something that they want to do, and think about it for weeks before trying it. Then they’ll think carefully about if they really can be sure that it worked. Sometimes they don’t get round to trying it until they’ve been able to talk about it with a likeminded person that they trust. Sometimes they find themselves doubting areas of their practice they have used for years. Often they find that this is only possible when they have found a group of supportive likeminded people. Sometimes they meet these likeminded people that they trust on twitter, once they have unfollowed the people who continuously point out the daft people.
These people, the people who read things, sometimes argue with other people about what they’re doing, but they do it with grace, and with good learning behind them. They can do this because they read lots about their teaching, and this reading helps them to recognise ideas which might be worth investigating, and helps them to maintain healthy scepticism in the face of ‘the silver bullet’ that other people are looking for. When they’re wrong (as they inevitably are), they can handle that, and change.