On Edutopia – and being open-minded about bad ideas

A few days ago Edutopia, an account dedicated to ‘what works’ in education, posted the below.

This tweet was met (at least in my timeline) with derision. Most of those retweeting included some scathing comment. This, they said, embodied the worst of a gimmicky teacher fad: ‘This was a crap idea in 2007! Don’t bring it back now!’

I admit, when I first watched it, I cringed. I cannot imagine ever resorting to using hats in my classroom. (I still have a hard time seeing the value of stamps.)

However, I also wondered whether we were throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So I watched the video a couple of times through to see if there was anything useful beneath the surface.

And I think there is:

I believe there is merit, for example, in providing pupils with prompts that enable them to give specific feedback. Similarly, it is not a worthwhile exercise that encourages pupils to link explicitly their advice to the given success criteria? And, perhaps most persuasively, are not school-wide systems effective at giving pupils a common language?

Of course, that can all be achieved without anyone wearing a hat, but that is not really the point.

It occurred to me that I am so entrenched in my Rosenshinian bunker of self-righteousness that I almost did not bother to watch the whole video or even attempt to engage with any of the ideas. My instinct was to dismiss them out of hand.

Perhaps that is right. Perhaps the video should be criticised in all its naffness.

But I would suggest that clever snap reactions tend to be point-scoring rather than constructive.

If we are open-minded and reflective teachers like we proclaim, it is probably more becoming that we make genuine efforts to understand why our colleagues have decided to use these ideas, and then respectfully explain why we disagree with them.

That, I suspect, is the standard we would demand of our students.

Then again, on reading this, you may want to don your black hat and take the time to explain why my entire post is entirely flawed.

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