The biggest problem in this section is when Bennett claims “Experience trumps theory every time”. At this point I was almost ready to stop reading, as my feelings on experience differ greatly. In this section, as Willingham writes, it almost seems as if Bennett is disagreeing with himself though, I think, as another reviewer put it, Bennett is probably just a bit clumsy here. I’m guessing what Bennett means is “unproven theories” can be trumped be evidence, -not “experience is better than solid research”, -or at least, that’s what I hope he’s saying.
The second section on “voodoo teaching” is the meat and here he really strikes a chord, laying into group work, three part lessons and ‘gamification’ among many others in short sharp chapters. Bennett is often funny, and I’m grateful for that, as anyone who has to read a lot of papers will know, educational papers can be terribly dull . The only problem here is that the style often seems to become a bit too ‘bloke-down-the-pub’ for example:
This is another thing that always gets me in education; there is a lot of this stuff, particularly the twenty-first century gas…
Bennett’s writing was particularly good when he tackled “techno” love in schools. This is something I’ve thought about but haven’t really had a good chance to look into yet, so teacher proof gave some good insights. I found myself nodding when I read “I’ve noticed on social network sites I lurk around, especially twitter [that] many teachers put in their biographies that they are “passionate about integrating technology in the classroom”‘. (124) before pointing out how little evidence there is that technology helps enhance learning at all. He also points out how much of the push for ‘digital classrooms’ emanates not from teachers or researchers but from “commercially interested parties”.
All in all I enjoyed “teacher proof” especially as it helped me feel A) I’m not the only one who feels they are going insane where education is concerned and B) He taught me about some wacky teaching theories I’d not yet heard of. One example of this is “thinking hats” which is mind bendingly odd. I headed straight for Google after reading about it and sure enough, never one to miss a trick, someone in the TEFL world has managed to co-opt this nonsense.
Bad education was a very thought provoking read, challenging some assumptions I had, like, for example, the idea that smaller classes are better, for instance or the notion that progressive education trumps traditional education. There is even a section which (carefully) unpicks myths related to dyslexia. Bad education is probably more the kind of resource I can use, but whereas I read “teacher proof” from cover to cover, there are sections of bad education which don’t have any relevance to me and remain unread, like a chapter on “computers Vs calculators” and perhaps this is telling.