Nearly a year ago, our second book The Science of Learning: 77 studies that every teacher needs to know, was released. Thousands of teachers all over the world have used it in their practice in many different, fascinating ways, all unique to their schools.
Keeping teachers excited about their learning across sites and countries, especially when they are constantly facing students from different learning cultures who are learning in their second, third or fourth language is a challenge – but one that The Science of Learning has helped CATS Colleges deliver. George Casley, Academic Director of CATS, explains how…
“Will they read it?” was the response when I suggested giving every one of our teachers in all our schools on three continents a copy of The Science for Learning. I was not sure, but I should not have been worried – the accessible and engaging style ensured colleagues not only read it – but argued about it.
- Many of the studies come from Western contexts, so will their findings apply in schools with students from almost one hundred cultures?
- How do we use conflicting studies in our context?
- Which study do you disagree with? Why?
Introducing the book with questions and challenges definitely worked with quizzical, cynical and conservative colleagues as it started interrogation and discussions. These have been raised in monthly videos produced by teachers and then shown and shared across the group. Each video has taken one study and discussed it in the context of schools with students from over eighty different learning backgrounds.
“The plan” had envisaged setting up discussion groups between teachers but we did not need to facilitate these – they occurred naturally. Some were amongst subject specialists, others with pastoral practitioners, some within schools, some across sites. Something that surprised me was how many non-teaching colleagues were suddenly demanding a copy, “I work in a school – I want to know more about learning – so I can help the students more” was a sentiment I heard from sales colleagues, cleaners, activity co-ordinators and many other members of our teams. Once again, getting colleagues to ask questions was key.
- How can I help develop learning in my role (whatever it is)?
- How in my interactions with students can I get them talking about good practice in learning?
- Which myth do I want to bust this week?
Different schools across the group have used the book differently but these have included: line managers using it as a focus for observation feedback conversations, asking teachers to identify something they would like to develop; students presenting studies to each other in tutor time; boarding staff asking students which of the studies they have seen evidence of in their lessons, and each week one study is highlighted with posters around the schools…
No resource is perfect for all contexts, but the well-thumbed and annotated copies of this book lying around our schools is evidence that, in our context, giving every teacher a copy has been beneficial. As educators, sometimes we all need reminding that as well as being pastoral agents we are crafts people. We use the skills of our profession to fashion learning. This book gets us thinking about how to hone the skills and ensure that they what we do is based on research. Use it – don’t just read it.
How do you use The Science of Learning in your practice? Let us know - we'd love to find out.
Take a look inside the book with 22 of the 77 studies accessible for free on our website. You can order your copy and read reviews from fellow educators on Amazon, or you can order the book in bulk to benefit your school's staff and get 25% off the price.