Educational Bingo

Educational Bingo

Twitter’s great. I’ll start off by saying that. I think it has potential for professional development that is completely different to traditional models. There’s an element of active decision making, a culture of sharing and a general willingness to reach out and share with others on Twitter that I have not often experienced in other arenas.

But – there’s always a but, isn’t there – but it is also important to recognise the limitations of Twitter. The most obvious of these is, of course, the fact that you are limited to 140 characters – no more! It can make some tweets a strange language of acronyms and abbreviations. The other issue is one that is more troubling, I think. It is far too easy on twitter to post some kind of vapid, meaningless drivel about education, and make it sound like it’s inspiring.

I know I sound like the Grinch who stole social media, but I’ve got a point. Let’s have a look at an example, ‘iPad: it’s about the pedagogy, not the technology.’ We see that kind of thing a lot on Twitter – as well as tweets from Keynote speakers and so on along similar lines. I don’t have a problem per se with the sentiments expressed – I do have a problem with the uncritical way that these sentiments are sometimes accepted.

I guess this part of a bigger problem. As teachers, we often get inspired by things that we think might be ‘game changers’ in education. You know what I’m talking about – Project Based Learning. Integrated Curricula. Rubrics. Peer Assessment. Team Teaching. Flexible Learning Spaces. Formative Assessment. Fertile Questions. I could keep going. I call these ‘educational bingo’ words – sometimes, it seems like a speaker or a teacher is trying to cram as many of these different words into a lesson as they can.

But – there’s that but again – but what we don’t often consider is whether there is much research supporting this approach. Admittedly, for some of these – especially those linked to technology – such research is hard to come by – although it is becoming easier. Instead, we, as teachers, seem to go with a kind of gut instinct – this seems to be right for me, and i’ve always done it this way, so I’m not going to change -rather than making informed, reflective decisions. I’m not running down teachers – and certainly not running down teacher judgement which, amongst well-trained, highly-educated and experienced teachers is usually pretty accurate – but I am saying that we need to be a little more discerning about what initiatives we embrace, lest we continue to play educational bingo while achievement and learning slide.