There’s that one with the triangle that shows you if you’re going to remember something in a week. I think it’s called ‘The Multi-Coloured Triangle of Remembering Something in a Week’.

Then there’s that one that says you’re oppressing your students if you teach them home economics or something.

There’s SOLO designed by the distinguished educationologist Jason Derulo where you must defeat a series of end-of-level bosses by asking open questions whilst break-dancing.

There’s growth mindset where you can heal the sick and jump buildings in a single bound with the liberal application of the word ‘yet’.

There’s child-led learning where a classroom of 5 year-olds fight to wear a corduroy jacket and the one who wins gets to tell the others what to do then goes home and wonders what went wrong in his/her life.

Or…I could be somewhat mistaken.

You see, I’ve never really properly engaged with theory. I get smatterings at INSET days or impressions when senior management teams stick something up on the wall telling you that the best way to teach is on a unicycle. That kind of thing doesn’t necessarily lead to a burning desire to seek the origins of these wonderful proclamations. But then, on the other hand, I’ve always felt that I’ve missed out. I like to study and I’m pretty sure that there’s stuff out there that will improve my teaching or lead to a greater understanding of it.

The problem (as it always seems to be) is one of time.

(First person who says something along the lines of ‘You should make time’ has to submit their weekly planner to a full and public scrutiny.)

In order to think about theory properly you need time to do it (absolutely groundbreaking I know). Problem is that time in this job is about the most precious commodity going.

A lack of time is massively constricting in terms of professional development. There are a million other things that a busy teacher has to prioritize before the luxury of sitting down with a book, or the even greater luxury of thinking about what they’ve just read. So sometimes it’s no wonder that a ‘superficial’ understanding is all we get. It’s a damn shame because some of this stuff might be massively useful.

If you want to help teachers engage with theory then give them the time to do it. Ease off on the timetabling and pressure of the normal working day – see it as an investment in their future, and consequently, an investment in the kids. Maybe something will come of it.

That’s my theory anyway.






  1. John Larsen

    You should move to Japan. Teachers there only teach 1 lesson a fortnight and work in swat teams planning it. The drawback is there are 1000 kids per class.

  2. thinkreadtweet

    You are so right, Tom. And it’s not as if there isn’t a precedent – GPs have designated time each week to keep abreast of the latest research. I will always treasure the year I had to do just that – being taught how to evaluate research, looking critically at different methodologies, applying them in a controlled setting and finally conducting a small research project ourselves. Twelve students a year, paid for by the government to study. I think the profession gained from the programme by enabling at least a handful of teachers to disseminate what they had learned. Unfortunately, this evidence-based course was an anomaly within teacher training establishment and was eventually eliminated.

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