Teaching Thinking and Dialogue

Blog from : Centre for Teaching Thinking and Dialogue (CTTD) at Exeter University

The Centre offers advice and support for the evaluation of teaching thinking and research on teaching thinking. It incorporates the Cognitive Education Development Unit which offers formal recognition to schools that have embraced the notion of cognitive education and implemented it as a whole school policy.


Work hard. Get smart. Be nice.

Work hard. Get smart. Be nice

Class Teaching

academic courage2

This is the motto of the Springfield Renaissance School, Massachusetts, USA – one of Ron Berger’sExpeditionary Learning SchoolsDan Brinton posted a video about the school on Twitter last night and it was very impressive – resonating with much of what many of us are trying to do here in terms of growth mindset and an ethic of excellence.

Ron Berger summed up the approach of the school:

“There’s a belief in the capacity of students to do more than they expect of themselves”

“A willingness to push kids deeper and let them struggle to do more”

Through this approach the school encourages ‘deep learning’ with the students, by developing the following competencies:

deeper learning competencies

A few of the bits of the video that stood out follow.

Academic Courage

A great phrase for a simple but important principle.  Students were encouraged to support each other to take risks and have…

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Who asks the questions?

Steve Williams blog The P4C review asks – Who asks the questions?

The P4C Review

It is often said by people working in the tradition of Mathew Lipman that pupils should always create and choose the questions to be discussed. Two of the most common reasons given for this practice are, firstly, that it is democratic and democracy is a thing to be encouraged, and, secondly, that it enables us to discover what children think is interesting or important and this, in turn, will lead to their greater engagement with the subsequent dialogue.

Democracy is a complex concept but to my mind an important thread of meaning is the presumption of worth – a belief that each individual in a community has something to offer that could turn out to be of value in influencing what is done. In the philosophical classroom, I do believe that pupils should have the opportunity to contribute what they are capable of contributing. I won’t know what they are…

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Young People’s Leadership

The UFA uses the phrase ‘young people’s leadership’ to describe a range of work they do.

“What do we mean by this? Our broad definition of leadership as ‘leading self and others’ can encompass specific leadership roles but is also about understanding more about myself and how I act in different situations. Being more aware, in control and as a result, being more actively engaged in a learning situation, because I choose to be.

In training we often ask people to question their motivation when they are considering pupil voice and influence – why do they want to engage young people in this way?

  • Is it because it’s the latest educational fad?
  • Is it because we think the inspectors will like it/expect it?
  • Or is it because we feel it is morally the right thing to do?
  • Is it an irrepressible force, an incoming tide, that we need to ‘go with’ otherwise we’ll be left behind?

We ask people who they feel they should involve?

  • Is it the ‘responsible ones’?
  • The ones who never have to be reminded to tuck their shirts in?
  • The prefects?
  • The school councillors?
  • …the usual suspects…?

Or is it actually an entitlement for all young people to be leading their own and perhaps other people’s learning?” more here

Chemist with a Conscience

Action Research

“I was introduced to action research as part of a session run by Zoe Elder at my school a few weeks ago (for a quick summary see her blog post http://fullonlearning.com/2013/06/15/tm-clevedon-workhop-engagement-courageous-curiosity/). This then linked in nicely with a session that I attended last week with the Teaching Leaders programme on action research and Building Learning Power by Bill Lucas (http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/). In both sessions action research was described as practitioner led enquiry with the aim of ‘becoming a better noticer’. Zoe Elder kindly stated that as long as you base your action research on your values as a teacher then you should be doing it right!

I’ve detailed the outline of my action research plan below using a combination of the ‘Teacher Enquiry Action Plan’ by The Expansive Education Network (http://www.expansiveeducation.net/) and the documents that Zoe Elder provided at our session. ”