World Class thinking: educationalists worth following

Here’s a sample of thinkers in education who offer interesting insights. The list is not exhaustive and there are some obvious candidates who aren’t on the list. How does it compare to yours?

  1. Developing Social Capital – Hargreaves and Fullan. The degree of social capital in your school shapes how decisions are made and ideas shared.
  1. Drafting and Re-drafting based on peer feedback – Ron Berger. Be kind, be specific, be helpful.  The pursuit of excellent published work. Inspirational student based approach. Associated with Project Based Learning and Expeditionary Schools.
  1. Interleaving and Desirable Difficulties – Robert Bjork. Cognitive dissonance defining breakthrough learning moments and hinge concepts – though interleaving remains unproven for heavily timetabled schools
  1. Applications of Neuroscience – Sarah Jayne Blakemore. How do adolescents manage risk? What’s the impact of teen peer pressure on the brain and decision-making? Why don’t insurance companies like three teenage boys in a car?
  1. Highly structured Lesson Observation – Robert Coe. Our classroom observations are flawed. We operate poor proxies for learning. We assume we know more than we do. Our observations are highly subjective.
  1. Metacognition and Learning to Learn – Guy Claxton. Learning is learnable. Not popular with the noisy ED Hirsch brigade but the ideas have traction and metacognition is integral to independence of thought.
  1. Nurturing Growth Mindsets – Carol Dweck. Now a heavy industry in schools and subject to all the abuses and half-truths that come with popularisation. Worth pursuing as its common sense. Don’t buy any posters!
  1. Evidence Based Interventions – John Hattie, Robert Marzano, Dan Mujis and David Reynolds. If it hasn’t got an effect size we’re not doing it! Careful about the dodgy statistics – Hattie doesn’t know how to construct a probability – but do get involved in the fascinating trend of evidence based whatever.
  1. Peer Influence in Classrooms – Graham Nuthall. Only one slight book but one which has punched above its weight. Tiny sample sizes and wildly exaggerated claims but nevertheless worth a read for the possibilities it opens up.
  1. Purposeful Formative Assessment – Dylan William. The gruff granddaddy of assessment. Takes it all very seriously but is a genuine heavyweight in this field. Worth re-reading the Black Box literature.
  1. Applying Cognitive Science – Daniel Willingham. Much adored by London Learning Luvvies, he is a genuine cognitive scientist who writes in an easily accessible style. Cognitive scientists don’t always take their abstractions to the rough and tumble of teenage classrooms and Willingham is no different but certainly worth reading.
  1. SOLO taxonomy – John Biggs. A simple, too simple perhaps, model of connectivity in thinking. I like it. Others don’t. I like it because it has a practical dimension which allows students to talk readily about the decisions they make.
  1. Learning Re-Imagined – Graham Brown Martin. An iconoclast. Great fun. Provides a unique perspective on global learning and has travelled the world to find it.
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