In a remarkable experiment, a class of 13-year-olds learned twice as quickly when they were not allowed to put their hands up in response to a teacher’s question.And the purpose of this barmy (albeit, seemingly successful) experiment?
Instead, the entire class was forced to write answers on small whiteboards and raise their answers in the air together.
Professor Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of the London University Institute for Education, who led the project, said: ‘The kids and teachers hated it at the beginning.Ah. That’s a quite telling bit of phrasing, isn’t it?
‘The kids who were used to having a quiet time were rattled at having to do something; the ones who were used to showing off to the teacher were upset.’
Answering questions is ‘showing off’. Hmmm…
Professor Wiliam said he wanted to stop the minority of bright pupils dominating the class and to encourage the whole class to take responsibility for their behaviour.Aha! It seems the Prof is a bit of a...well, I couldn’t possibly comment, but wasn’t there a bunch of people famous for experimenting with children to create a better society?
I seem to recall they were quite keen on exercise too:
The Classroom Experiment – which will be broadcast later this month – also found that making pupils exercise at the start of each day helped academic performance.And also putting everyone in fear of informers to encourage obedience and full control:
The teacher also monitored a single pupil’s behaviour each day – without telling the class which student was being placed under scrutiny – and then offered a reward of a day at Alton Towers if the student behaved.I’d like to know: did his team of researchers follow the time-honoured path of quiet observations with a clipboard, or did he install a huge bank of CCTV screens, the better to observe from his underground volcano lair while cackling maniacally?
The move was intended to encourage the whole group to take responsibility for earning the reward.
He’s clearly very proud of his achievement, too:
‘The changes we made gave the quieter children confidence, made all pupils know they are expected to participate and created a more supportive atmosphere – nobody laughs any more if someone gets something wrong,’ he said.Oh, that laughter still rings in your ears, doesn’t it?
Was it because they thought you couldn’t spell ‘William’ properly, Prof..?
‘I hope this programme shows how difficult high-quality teaching is.’Well, when people like you are using their classrooms are experimental labs, yes, I’m sure it is…
After one term, pupils learned at twice the speed of peers not taking part and the school was so impressed by the experiment it is continuing with the techniques.All they have to lose are their souls and their free will, I guess…
Hertswood head Jan Palmer Sayer said: ‘The difference was tangible – both in achievements and the dynamics of the class.
‘Teachers were given clear strategies for improvements which didn’t involve spending lots of money on new technology.’
But maybe I’m alone in finding this all rather creepy?