I’ve always had a big problem with grouping students by ability. The Sutton Trust EEF Toolkit shows that ability grouping, setting or streaming has a negative impact on student attainment.
Ability grouping slows progress down
One of the first blogs I read and favourited when I began exploring the online educational world was Kenny Pieper’s Setting by ability: why? which used Ed Baines’ chapter on…
Fleas are remarkable creatures. They are usually between 1.5 and 3mm long, but they can jump 33cm horizontally and 18cm straight up into the air. If a flea was a person, this would be the equivalent of jumping straight up to the clock face on Big Ben, or clean from one end of Wembley Stadium to the other.
Apparently the key is jumping off with your toes, rather than your knees, as this video shows. Worth noting for sports day, perhaps?
What is even more remarkable about the flea, though, is that this quite extraordinary physical ability can be limited by one really simple intervention.
If you put fleas into a jar with a lid on for three days, they will only jump half the height they are capable of. In that time, they will learn that this is how high they can jump and then – even if you take the lid off – they will only every jump the height of the jar until the day they die, even though they are physically capable of jumping at least twice as high. And what is even more remarkable is that the offspring of those fleas, even if they aren’t kept in a jar, will still only jump to the height of the jar lid.
We, as humans, are just as capable of limitation. Think about the things that you don’t think you can do because somebody has told you you can’t. As small children, we believe we’re capable of anything, but usually we begin to limit ourselves. When will my daughter, currently five years old, stop believing that it is possible to become an astronaut? I hope, never; but I expect, soon. Not because I will do anything to limit her ambition but because, in the world in which we live, there are so many influences slamming that glass lid down and telling us “that’s not possible” or “you can’t do that.”
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister demonstrating what can happen when we challenge the naysayers. For decades it was believed to be beyond human capacity to run a mile in less than four minutes, but on 6th May 1954 Bannister did exactly that. To achieve this great feat he had to run at a speed of 15 miles per hour, covering each of the sixteen 100m distances in 14.91 seconds, showing incredible endurance. And what happened afterwards was really interesting, because his great competitor, the Australian John Landy, beat Bannister’s time 54 days later. It was almost as if Bannister was one of the fleas in the jar who had turned to a flea next to him and said, “what lid?” Since Bannister the record time for the mile has come down to 3 minutes 43 seconds. Bannister had proved what was possible; others followed.
So of course, the best weapon to combat those invisible limitations is ourselves. But the truth is, we often impose our own limitations on ourselves. As we grow up, we learn to protect our fragile egos from the embarrassment and pain of failure by stopping trying. We create little invisible prisons for ourselves within which we operate without even realising. We won’t put our hands up in class because…well…that’s not something we do. I won’t volunteer for that Change & Create Team because…well…I haven’t done anything like that before. Should I take up a musical instrument? Audition for the school play? It’s just not me. Should I go for an A in History? My challenge grade is only a B…it’ll be really hard. Try telling that to Roger Bannister.
I’m here today to tell you that your jar has no lid. You might not succeed, but as the Chinese philosopher Confucius said:
This is the attitude that got people to the moon 45 years ago this month. When announcing the intention to go to the moon seven years previously, in 1962, President Kennedy said:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because…that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.
This is called moonshot thinking:
Don’t be a flea. Remember, your jar has no lid. Jump as high as you can.
If you can’t see the Prezi embed, click this link.
The Chew Valley Reading Spa is in session…
I’ve just had the great pleasure of taking part in our inaugural Reading Spa. Inspired by the brilliant gifts available from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, the event was designed for our sixth formers to help re-ignite their love of reading and brilliantly organised by English teacher Bell Wall alongside our librarian Jane Hillis.
Throwing Muses. Pictured during a live performance at The Bierkeller in Bristol, 12th February 1989 (date according to tour schedule).
Originally shared by twinkandwink
Belly: Red (live)
The Breeders featuring Tanya Donelly performing Happiness is a Warm Gun in Boston, 18th December 2013
Tanya Donelly. Live picture from one of the dates of the Throwing Muses / Pixies European tour, 1988. Published by Melody Maker, 7th of May 1988.
by Phil Nocholls
Throwing Muses. Tanya Donelly on stage in Atlanta during one of her last live dates before she definitely left the band, 6th of June 1991.
Throwing Muses. Promo photograph, 1986. From back to front: Leslie Langston, Dave Narcizo, Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh.
by Andrew Catlin
Throwing Muses. One of their first promotional photo shoots, 1985.
Throwing Muses. Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donelly, Dave Narcizo and Leslie Langston in two sadly watermarked pictures taken in 1989.
by Jay Blakesberg
I have been thinking hard about values and ethos recently. It’s probably to do with being on NPQH where every other slide on every PowerPoint is about your values and vision, but my thoughts were also prompted by Joe Kirby’s recent blog series on rewards which begins with the Lewis Carroll quotation:
“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes”
Image via Wikimedia commons
I remember David…
Colin Stokes on how the dominant narrative in kids’ movies establishes the idea that passive women are the reward for men completing a quest - and how parenting, movies and the Wizard of Oz can help create a counter-narrative of collaboration and shared purpose under accommodating leadership. Take ten minutes. It’s worth it.
My original post “Assessment in the new national curriculum – what we’re doing” remains one of the most popular on this blog. Here I will outline how we have refined the model proposed in that post and integrated it with progress tracking, as well as our latest thoughts on assessment without levels and growth mindset.
How will we assess in the new national curriculum?
I was delighted to hear that
Hey pals! Sorry this is a huuuuge post, BUT i finished my book!
Cousin Jack - 1 colour screen print on double gate folded somerset paper by Lucy Ketchin
If you like please share! Thank you :——)
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