Perspectives on further education
I came into teaching with an MA in Political Philosophy in 2004. Since then I have been teaching Politics and Philosophy A-levels in state-supported post-16 education, and I have been a department head since 2012.
As with all colleagues in the state sector I have faced sustained pressure to improve standards. However, teaching in an inclusive college setting raises particular challenges. At a transitional time of their lives producing its own demands and motivations, these students often face serious social disadvantage with no family aspiration to higher education, and they are free to drop out at any time. Because of the nature of the subject it has not been difficult to inspire students to take an interest in Philosophy, but it has been an uphill battle to get them all to a point where they can confidently manipulate complex abstract ideas in evaluating philosophical claims.
However, it took one resource at a CPD event in 2017 to spot something that I recognised could help achieve this. Through two years of subsequent classroom research I have reached the conclusion that neither in education nor employment have we completely understood what is involved in critical analysis, an essential transitional step in the development of higher-order abilities. This has meant that as teachers we have used methods and resources incoherently and this has hampered the development of students’ ability to analyse and evaluate, and to develop the metacognitive skills necessary to control their progress beyond education. I argue that subsequent insights into Bloom’s taxonomy offer a new perspective on how students can unlock higher levels of learning and metacognitive awareness. This perspective helps make current thinking, research and practice more coherent and can unlock a great deal of hidden potential in our students regardless of their background.
Through this blog I hope to share my research, thinking, resources and strategies to help you deliver more effective teaching, learning and assessment, produce more resilient, adaptable students, and help you organise your own departments more efficiently.