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?
Simon Oxenham covers the best and the worst from the world of psychology and neuroscience. Formerly writing with the pseudonym "Neurobonkers", Simon has a history of debunking dodgy scientific research and tearing apart questionable science journalism in an irreverent style. Simon has written and blogged for publishers including: The Psychologist, Nature, Scientific American and The Guardian. His work has been praised in the New York Times and The Guardian and described in Pearson's Textbook of Psychology as "excoriating reviews of bad science/studies”.
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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:
+ 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!
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