First of all I need to come clean. Up until pretty recently I was a fully paid up member of the Cult of Outstanding™. Last January I considered myself to be a teacher at the height of my powers. In the spirit of self-congratulation I posted a blog entitled Anatomy of an Outstanding Lesson in which I detailed a lesson which I confidently supposed was the apotheosis of great teaching, and stood back to receive plaudits. And indeed they were forthcoming. I was roundly congratulated and felt myself extraordinarily clever.
And then Cristina Milos got in touch to tell me that there was no such thing as an outstanding lesson. I was, she patiently pointed out, deluding myself. When I sputtered my objections she directed me to a video of Robert Bjork explaining the need to dissociate learning from performance. Now no one enjoys being told they’re a fool, but I have to say that I’m profoundly grateful to Cristina for not pulling her punches; nothing else has had anywhere near the impact on my thinking about teaching and learning. When you start thinking in this way, it becomes increasingly obvious just how little we know and understand about what we do.
Photo credit: Louis Shackleton