Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Spreading the knowledge!

Although yesterday was cold enough for me to light a fire for only the second or third time this winter, today, as the weathermen predicted, is milder. The clear blue sky has been replaced by a matt grey one. The crisp frosty surface has gone and the mud has returned. Somehow this weather exchange does not seem to be working in our favour. If anyone wonders where all the melt-water has gone from the reducing polar ice caps, I think I have may have the answer. It has almost all been falling on the North West of England and is being stored in the ground in all the places where I like to walk.

I did manage to go for a walk yesterday without mishap despite the crisp frosty surfaces. Washing the white items of clothing from Monday’s fun and games has so far been only marginally successful. The still grubby items are currently soaking in one of those miracle solutions which claim to remove all stains and restore your whites to pristine brilliance. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile Mr. Gove has been attracting my attention again. This time it’s an article about his plan to give every school in the country a copy of the King James Bible, personally inscribed by him. If it goes ahead I think he’s got a bit of writer’s cramp ahead of him. However, as with his support for a new yacht for the queen, this project is getting somewhat guarded support from Mr. Cameron. Basically, it’s a case of “go ahead but find a private sponsor to fund it”.

I doubt very much that David Cameron could have spoken out against it. After all, in December he said: "The King James Bible has bequeathed a body of language that permeates every aspect of our culture and heritage. Second, just as our language and culture is steeped in the Bible, so too is our politics. Third, we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so.” He’s not really likely to do a u-turn on that position, is he? Not if he knows what's good for him.

Personally, I have a feeling that many of our schools already have a copy of the King James Bible. It’s probably in the school library somewhere. It’s just that it’s a little difficult to write it into the lesson plan for all subject areas. I wonder if it could become another of those boxes that teachers have to tick when making their lesson plans for inspection.

Differentiation – tick. Diversity – tick. Variety of activity – tick. Catering for different learning styles – tick. Intro to lesson that states aims – ticks. Plenary session that checks aims have been met – tick Dividing everything into bite-size 15 minute chunks because students apparently have short attention spans – tick. Juggling and standing on my head to make the lesson entertaining and fun – tick. Now, what else? Oh, yes, King James Bible – tick.

Oops, cynicism coming through again.

While on an education thing, here’s a little something I had confirmed. My weekend papers included supplements about memory. One of the aspects they talked about was testing. Here’s a little quotation:
“The American psychologists Jess Carpicke and Roddy Roediger investigated the most effective method for learning languages. They found that repeated testing during the learning period resulted in 80% accurate vocabulary recall when examined a week later, whereas strategies used in language study guides saw success rates drop to 30%.”

So all that time when I gave my students a quick vocabulary test at the start of each lesson I was doing the right thing. The students thought it was just another way of getting at them but also as an opportunity to win lollipops for being vocab champ of the month but really I was spot on in methodology. How good was I?

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