Have teachers always been interested in how the mind works? Have we always wanted an evidence-based profession?
There is an increased call for evidence in teaching; for teachers to be informed more reliably than ever before.
What is Cognition?
Advances in neuroscience have resulted in the investigation of the mind (the software) been combined with the investigation of the brain (the hardware). A branch of psychology known as cognitive neuroscience.
Cognitive-ism is a rejection of psychoanalytic approaches, which trying to understand the mind in terms of myth, and of behaviourist approaches, which try to understand the mind in terms of behaviour only.
Cognitive strategies are one type of learning strategy that learners use in order to learn more successfully. These include repetition, organising new language, summarising meaning, guessing meaning from context, using imagery for memorisation. (Source)
In education, particularly with teachers in the classroom, there has been a recent call for evidence based practice to inform what we are doing in the classroom; and more importantly why. This could be called ‘the cognitive revolution’ in teaching.
Twenty years ago, this demand for evidence never existed in my formative years, nor did it ever cross my lips once as a young teacher.
However, this is not to say that teachers should not be wanting to use or access research to improve our teaching; we should. And is there a danger that research-hungry educators will only accept any claims of what works in the classroom, with evidence to support it; not really validating what a teacher knows best and what works in the classroom. Is the latter now no longer a valid claim?
I’d like to argue that teachers can still hold their own domain in classrooms and continue do what works for them; and without the need for evidence! But, this will come at a price. If teachers are told to do XY and Z by senior leadership teams without any validity, or we find various gimmicks off the internet to trial and use in our classrooms, is there is a danger that teachers will continue to do all sorts of tricks and one-off performances to please observers without any reliability?
Something has to change; and we must be able to trust our teachers to get on with the job they do best. And sometimes, just sometimes, this can be done without any evidence to inform best practice.
What do you think?