Not a magpie...a star baker


Inspired by John Tomsett's words of warning about being a magpie- collecting new bright shiny teaching ideas without considering impact- I have come up with an analogy of my own, mostly inspired by GBBO.

I completely agree with what John said- it's is so easy to pick up on new pedagogy and use it indiscriminately and without considering the why or how it will work. I am also as guilty as the next stressed out teacher looking for some magic fix for marking/differentiation/teaching boys and so on. 

But. I think there is a difference in size of ideas we pick up. And here's where the cakes come in. Making a cake, a nice simple sponge for most bakers is their bread and butter (excuse mixed metaphors). They know how to do it. They probably don't change the recipe once they've found something that works. Like teachers, I think after a while we have our 'default' tried and tested pedagogy which we fall back on. Why change a recipe if it tastes good? If your marking and feedback policy works why change it because you read a blog where a school uses five different highlighters and it all looks so pretty...?

And what is wrong with different toppings on the cake? In teaching, this is simply different ways to present the same basic strategies. In English, constantly drilling PEE, or PEEZ or whatever, can be dull. What's wrong with magpieing an idea or topping to jazz it up a bit? Shared writing? PEE mobile? consequences PEE? Same outcome, same cake, different topping. These are the sorts of things I will continue to magpie. Ideas that don't change what's underneath the teaching- but they can make dull tasks more palatable.

Author Profile

Sarah Ashton

Sarah Ashton

Head of English, full-time mummy, developing my plate spinning skills and running beginner

43 stories


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