Who Teaches The Teachers?

Most teaching textbooks aren't evidence-based according to a new report, so where should teachers go to keep their skills up to date?

That’s a question now being raised after a major report from the National Council on Teacher Quality found most teacher training textbooks and courses aren’t based in evidence and contain large amounts of myths and misinformation. One researcher is now posing the question – if not textbooks – where do teachers, can teachers, and should teachers get reliable information?


The numbers above are clearly heavily skewed at the tech savvy end of the spectrum due to being based on a small opportunity sample obtained from Twitter – obviously this isn’t a scientific study. But it’s not the numbers that I find interesting, it’s the question itself. The idea that cognitive journals are the most objective form of research is clearly highly debatable, and likely influenced by the fact that the infographic was created by a cognitive researcher. Education researchers will probably disagree. Personally I’d have put meta-analyses at the top of the list above all else, but that discussion is academic.

Traditionally textbooks are widely treated as the pinnacle of evidence and lowly blogs, well... less so. The NCTQ study suggests at least half of that statement is incorrect, and it’s not the part about the blogs. Unfortunately the undisputed king of sources – academic journals - are typically dense and time consuming to keep track of and read, and time is not something most teachers have much of a surplus of between marking, teaching, actively planning their lessons and all their other obligations. Blogs may therefore be one of the best places for teachers to keep up to date on the latest research findings.

Obviously all blogs were not created equal and there are certainly unreliable blogs out there. I do my best to keep up to date on evidence and evaluate research with integrity, objectivity and the help of expert analysis, but I’m certainly no expert in teaching.

There are however a great deal of excellent blogs out there by expert educators, so after consulting with Dr. Yana Weinstein of the excellent Learning Scientists project the following are a few recommendations of some reliably excellent education blogs where you can keep up to date on the latest in education and cognitive research:

Learning Spy – The blog of David Didau, a teacher with fifteen years teaching experience who discusses the latest findings in education research and cognitive psychology.

Informed Education – The blog of David Weston, head of the Teacher Development Trust and Chair of the British Government Department for Education’s Teacher’s Professional Development Expert Group.

Evidence into Practice – The blog of Nick Rose, a skeptical teacher interested in applying psychological research to teaching.

Hunting English – The blog of Alex Quigley an English teacher and director of learning and research at an English school.

Greg Ashman’s Blog – An Australian teacher with a love for education research, blogging his way through a  PhD.

Class Teaching – A blog managed by Shaun Allison, Deputy Head of an English high school. The blog hosts a half-termly bulletin from Andy Tharby that breaks down current findings from educational research.

The list above is only a small fraction of what’s out there, but it’s certainly a great starting point!

Follow Simon Oxenham @Neurobonkers on TwitterFacebookRSS or join the mailing list, for weekly analysis of science and psychology news. 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less