Effective teaching and thrift

From eSchool News, a report that the Gates Foundation is preparing to spend US$500,000 to investigate what makes effective teaching. The article states that ever since schools opened, everyone has understood what makes schooling special, “inspiring, organised and creative teachers”. The Foundation however, is seeking much more evidence to understand what makes effective teachers – how they are trained, developed and assessed. The article also talks about “putting the best teachers in the most challenging classrooms”, and having the best teachers as mentors for others, while “keeping them in front of the children”. This is familiar stuff but school systems of promotion and management tend to take the best teachers out of the classroom. Maybe all that money will tell us the answer to what makes effective teaching. Maybe paying TLs and SLs more would be a better way of spending the money.

A Scotsman talking about thrift may reinforce your prejudices. However, I’ve spared no expense in providing you with a poem about the flower thrift and a photo. Thrift, also known as sea pink grows by the sea and here in Dunbar, you’ll see thrift growing along the clifftops. In Alice Oswald’s Weeds and Wild Flowers book of poems, to which I’ve referred before, the poem Thrift begins: Born by the sea./Used to its no-hope moan. Forty or thereabouts./Lived on her own. Later, the poem describes thrift: She came with her cushion/to the cliffs. She sat/strained in the wind/in a pink old fashioned hat.

Thrift flowers

Thrift flowers


2 Responses to “Effective teaching and thrift”

  1. Penny Szentkuti Says:

    Well at least if the Gates Foundation do it, it will probably be done properly. I’ll be interested to see how they measure creativity and passion.

    We are debating in Australia right now about taking on the American system called Teach for America, where excellent graduates in any field are recruited to teach in the most challenging schools, after an absurdly short training period of something like 6 weeks. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week from an American educator (sorry I don’t have the details to hand) advised strongly against it after a report came out showing that actually the regular, fully trained teachers, even first year out, got better results than these brilliant law/medicine etc graduates. Why do we blindly follow the US in so many matters when they aren’t doing nearly as well as those inspiring Scandinavian countries?! Are we just too lazy to get an interpreter? Our so called Education Revolution is just not the exciting change I was hoping for.

    Wow, I didn’t realise how much I needed to get that off my chest 🙂


  2. Jan Says:

    Where is the evidence that the best teachers are taken out of the classrooms and promoted? I think many of the best teachers stick with what they have chosen to do and teach. Many seek promotion to improve their wages rather than a desire to make a difference as a leader! I get sick of being thought of as just a teacher.

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