Progressive Versus Traditional Teaching – Is it like Marmite?

Progressive versus traditional teaching – are they either loved or hated (like marmite)?

Dr Joanne Ladds, Associate Consultant at Noble and Eaton, aims to ‘…be a part of inspirational and effective professional development for teachers that combines traditional with progressive education. I would like to see novel methods being used and developed in lessons and to share these ideas across the world.’

Find out more about progressive v traditional teaching – are the two styles deeply divisive like Marmite?

Traditional Or Progressive Teaching – Where Does Your School Lie?

In a recent survey, just 5% of secondary school teachers and 9% of primary school teachers viewed themselves as very progressive. Similar numbers said they were somewhat progressive (secondary schools – 27%; primary schools – 33%) or somewhat traditional (secondary schools – 29%; primary schools – 32%). 

With 4% of senior school teachers describing themselves as very traditional, there is no one style across schools; however, science was seen as one of the most progressive subjects, closely followed by creative lessons, humanities and languages.

The Science of Learning

The Science of Learning is a relatively new field that brings together research from neuroscience, psychology, educational research and other related disciplines and explores why our brain shapes our learning but our learning shapes our brain.

Does your school look upon learners as active participants or simply passive absorbers of information and authority? It is important that your leadership culture values parental involvement – and sees them as a primary source of resource – and the community, with decision making shared by all commitment groups, a focus on learning as a spiral with depth and breadth and with knowledge constructed via play, direct experience and social interaction. Measures of success should be determined over a period of time and through collaborative work, with intelligence recognised as varied and including real life problem-solving. School should be a challenging and fun part of life.

How Can You Create A Positive Culture Of Learning?

Senior Leaders and teachers need to create expectations for the continuous improvement of practice and ensure that the focus stays on those things that make a difference to student outcomes. Leaders must also provide the time, space, dispensation and support for innovation and risk-taking.

The focus should be on three key areas; know your school, know your pupils and know yourself. Your school should have established teacher and learning policies, with lesson observation forms and planning sheets. Do you know the criteria for outstanding / excellent ratings? Get to know your students and understand how they learn. Connect with the lives of those you are teaching, vary their learning with lots of different activities to develop visual and auditory processing. Engage – how are you going to make them curious? Build – what will you use to monitor progress? Consolidate – when will you revisit the learning that has taken place in a lesson? And finally, know yourself, both as a learner by knowing how you learn, and also as a teacher by understanding what you could improve.

You may not love or hate these styles of learning as much as you do Marmite but just like the flavour, both progressive and traditional teaching are here to stay.

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Progressive Versus Traditional Teaching – Is it like Marmite?

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