• Adrian Bethune

Teachappy vlog series...Dylan Wiliam

Updated: May 8, 2018

This month, we interview Prof. Dylan Wiliam to find out why he believes teaching knowledge is so important in schools and what the latest findings from cognitive science can teach us.

Prof. Dylan Wiliam

Dylan is Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London. Before that, he taught for several years at inner-city schools in London. He’s probably best known for his academic work which, over the last 15 years, has focused on the use of assessment to support learning. His new book Creating The Schools Our Children Need is out now.

What is a knowledge-rich curriculum?

Is a knowledge-rich curriculum just about teaching children lots of facts? Dylan Wiliam says no, and that

children need knowledge to help them think more deeply about the world. Knowledge also helps people

move from novice to expert. Click on the video (the first of 5) to hear what else Dylan has to say on the matter.

What should be on a knowledge-rich curriculum and who gets to decide?

There is an infinite universe of knowledge out there but only a finite amount of time at school to teach it. So what we choose to teach is very important. But who should decide what our children learn? Teachers? Politicians? Parents? Dylan Wiliam shares his thoughts below.

Why do teachers need to know about short and long-term memory and what are the implications for the classroom?

In his new book, Dylan states that, "The point that in fact should guide the whole of education is that

short-term memory is limited, in both capacity and duration." I asked him why this is so important for teachers to understand and what implications this has for the classroom.

What's the difference between performance and learning?

We've all been there. You teach your class a lesson, let's say on finding equivalent fractions, and they seem

to get it. By the end of the lesson they know what they are, they can find equivalent fractions and you feel they've cracked it! But then you return to the topic days or weeks later and it's as if they've never been taught the lesson before! The reason? Well, they performed well in the lesson but they didn't necessarily learn anything (i.e. changes in their long-term memory were not made). Here Dylan explains the difference between performance and learning.

Should happiness and wellbeing of pupils and teachers be a main goal of education?

At teachappy, we believe that the happiness and wellbeing of pupils and teachers is of paramount importance. A previous blog showed that teachers can have a huge impact on pupils' wellbeing at school. And throughout time, philosophers and religious leaders have argued that the purpose of our lives is to be happy. So should this be a main goal of education - to help children lead happy and fulfilling lives? Dylan believes wellbeing, fulfilment, and flourishing are all worthy goals of education but has reservations about using the word 'happy'. Here he explains why.

Adrian Bethune

Adrian is a primary school teacher and author of Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide to Teaching Happiness (due out on 6th September 2018).


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