Feed on

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

This week on the programme I interview five colleagues who participated recently in an Erasmus+ project titled EDUCATE. This project involved developing materials for teachers, providing providing professional development, and conducting research on how to combine challenge and differentiated instruction in the teaching of mathematics at pre-primary, primary and post-primary levels. Project materials are available here. The guests on the programme are Charalambos Charalambous from the University of Cyprus, Ann Marie Gurhy from the Marino Institute of Education, Despina Potari from the University of Athens, João Pedro da Ponte from the University of Lisbon, and Evridiki Kasapi from the University of Cyprus. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • Realising that mathematics is more than memorisation and drill and practice.
  • How the study of differentiated instruction and challenge in mathematics came about
  • What it means to introduce challenge to mathematics tasks
  • An overview of differentiated instruction
  • Using enablers and extenders to promote differentiated instruction
  • Why a teacher needs to know a student’s cognitive, social and affective needs in order to differentiate
  • Observing teachers’ needs in differentiating and providing challenge through reading research and observing lessons
  • Developing materials to support teachers
  • Using video clubs as a model of teacher professional development
  • Challenges teacher encounter when working with challenging tasks
  • The difference between video clubs and lesson study
  • Overview of the modules created as part of the project (each module is based around a number of cases of practice)

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

This week on the podcast my guest is Derek Sivers, a musician who founded the CD company CD Baby before leaving it to write and practise philosophy. His website is well worth checking out. Among the topics we discuss on the podcast are:

  • We all have the ability to be smart or to be stupid and how some environments reward stupidity and others reward being smart
  • Thriving educationally in and out of school: being engaged and receiving direct feedback
  • The power of finding the intersection between students’ interests and a nudge from parents’ towards learning/growing experiences
  • Why being smart (critical thinking, challenge assumptions, look past the obvious, to question the world) is more impressive than being educated (you’ve done the assignments)
  • Naval Ravikant is an example of someone he thinks is smart.
  • Smart is something you do, not something you are
  • A list of books Derek Sivers has read and the notes he made on them.
  • A great teacher or educator interrupts expectations: teaching a mindset (questioning assumptions, interrupting expectations) rather than delivering information. Teaching students how to carry on or learn on their own, to be smart out in the world).
  • You don’t have to copy the teacher's example all the time; as long as you get the gist of an idea, you can get creative within it.
  • Impact of Kimo Williams on Derek.
  • Why the typical school curriculum goes way too slowly
  • Being in awe at the patience of public school teachers
  • Intrinsic interest in music following an initial foundation in music
  • Moving from being passive in the education system to taking control of his own education: from mediocrity to excelling. His love of learning came after school
  • The importance of having something to pursue, something you want, something you’re driven towards – whatever it is. By learning to be great at that one thing, you learn everything else (how to learn, improve, practise, mastery) as a side effect.
  • How well his education prepared him for being an entrepreneur
  • Why he things entrepreneurship cannot be taught successfully (it’s very holistic, about psychology, thinking about things from the customer’s, client’s, partner’s point of view), being out in the world staying at the forefront of people’s minds, bring flexible.
  • Seeing learning as a key to his success; loving having his brain tickled – learning new ways of looking at things
  • The need to have a focus for what you want in life. His current focus is on being a great writer, programmer and dad.
  • Recognising that sometimes we just stumble into things (e.g. circumstance or a recommendation from someone we admire) or deliberately spreading out in other directions.
  • Audio version of The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson:(listened to after hearing a podcast between Tyler Cowen and Emily Wilson)
  • Avoiding distraction by finding work that is not so easy that it’s boring and not so difficult that it’s overwhelming as described in Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Maintaining focus by hating having something unfinished
  • Learning for the sake of creating something
  • Pain and anger as sources of ideas.
  • Things he wants to create (build a house from scratch; a company that will host websites after you die); a forum on which to highlight the next generation of musicians (BMajor); build a 100-acre forest over 15 years; create an app to connect people who like talking on the phone; and Cloud Free a service to teach people technical independence
  • Finding something that is endlessly interesting (computer programming for him)
  • Learning from different media and perspectives: reading diverse books, listening, multi-media videos, courses that give assignments
  • Mastery School (with coaches) sivers.org/masch: Pick something to do and make it happen
  • The Flipped Classroom

He recommends the following books, article and pieces of music in the course of the interview:

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme school librarian from the Albemarle School System in the State of Virginia in the United States, Ida Mae Craddock (Mae) makes the case for having a school librarian in every school. We discuss her work as a school librarian. Among the topics covered are:

  • A description of the school she teaches in
  • Allocation of librarians to schools in Virigina
  • The job of school librarian
  • Describing the library and the services offered
  • Doing a masters in library science (Old Dominion University)
  • Content of masters course
  • The challenge and importance of locating resources that are relevant and used
  • Developing the library collection
  • The library of things
  • “Being stuck at home is no fun, being stuck at home with no books is tragic.”
  • Cataloguing library materials
  • The kind of literature that is popular among the students in the school she works in
  • Loss of library stock
  • Value of having a librarian in a school
  • The history of school libraries
  • The future of school libraries – innovation hubs
  • Writing regularly for School Librarian Connection and School Library Journal
  • The Maker Educator Collective
  • Laser cutting and 3-D printing
  • CRICKETS – Computer Aided Cutting
  • Teaching as a subversive activity by Neil Postman
  • Walden by Thoreau

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this 400th episode of Inside Education I am delighted to be joined by the co-presenter of my favourite podcast, Speak-up Storytelling. Matthew Dicks is also an elementary school teacher and the author of Storyworthy: Engage, teach, persuade, and change your life through the power of storytelling. He blogs and shares other resources at his website. Matthew shares a story with listeners to this week's podcast and among the other topics we discuss are:

  • Becoming a teacher
  • Studying in a community college while working in McDonalds before winning scholarships to university
  • Manipulating his dream to fit his reality instead of manipulating his reality to fit his dream
  • What he likes and dislikes about teaching
  • Teaching children writing like an editor treats a writer (giving them time, choice, audience, purpose)
  • The importance of letting a child share their writing and how to respond to the child’s writing
  • Providing feedback for students on their writing
  • Why he writes
  • The kind of stories he tells on stage
  • The idea he developed called “homework for life”
  • How he uses storytelling in his elementary school teaching
  • Improvisational story telling games
  • The consequence of storytelling and story-writing being acts “of courage”
  • Sharing writing as a celebratory moment
  • Having a stage, curtains, lighting and a sound system in his class
  • Teaching Shakespeare to fifth grade students
  • “Whatever your passion is, bring it to the classroom”
  • Albert Cullum Shakespeare in the classroom
  • A typical day in his classroom
  • Disliking school as a student
  • Why he teaches to the students who don’t want to be in class; not assuming that any student wants to be in school on any given day
  • How his approach to planning has changed
  • He is a problem-solving, big-picture person – not someone who likes to write a unit of work or draft a school plan
  • Managing behaviour in the classroom
  • Why he dislikes homework: children should read every day and learn to study. He prefers long-term assignments over short-term ones
  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Using competence in storytelling to be a better interviewee when you go for a job
  • Telling a story


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast my guest is website entrepreneur, bestselling author and performance nutritionist, Daniel Davey. Daniel Davey is the senior performance nutritionist with Leinster Rugby and with the Dublin Senior Football team. The focus of our conversation is nutrition and education. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

  • What made him decide to study nutrition
  • Memories of preparing food and cooking at home from a young age
  • Studying home economics at school and agricultural science at college
  • Making the connection between nutrition and sport
  • Importance of a positive relationship with food
  • His message for students when he visits schools
  • Challenges in applying principles of healthy nutrition in our lives
  • How he sees his role in promoting nutrition as that of a coach
  • Why he does not prepare meal plans for the athletes he works with
  • Questions he is asked by students in schools
  • Attempts to use schools in the fight against childhood obesity
  • Why he prefers the healthy plates to that of the food pyramid
  • Taking responsibility for the food you eat
  • Why it’s good to raise your own awareness and curiosity about food
  • Making the classroom a safe space to talk about food
  • The power of questions when talking about nutrition
  • Work of a nutritionist is to facilitate and empower
  • Relationship between nutrition and physical exercise
  • How coaches of school sports teams can promote good nutrition with their members
  • Elite school sports performance and nutrition – place of supplements
  • Advice for parents around school lunches
  • Positive and negative impacts of teachers on him
  • His continuing professional development
  • How our nutrition practices have set us up to fail in school
  • What inspires him

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's episode I speak to Professor Yong Zhao from the School of Education at the University of Kansas. Among the topics we discuss on the episode are the following:

  • We currently have the opportunity to reimagine education without schools: Do we have to do these subjects? Do we have to teach this much?
  • A good time to teach global understanding, empathy and competency
  • Innovation in education
  • The importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset
  • The Digital Pencil
  • Alternative ways of organising the education of young people
  • Difficulty of finding like-minded people in a small school
  • Globalisation as the “death of physical distance”
  • Globalisation is localisation of global forces
  • Implications of globalisation for teachers
  • Why everyone should have a local identity and affirm the identities of others
  • Your uniqueness can only become valuable when it’s valuable to others
  • Why schools encourage people to be independent and selfish rather than interdependent
  • Schools as a place to bring about a better society
  • Students as job creators versus job hunters
  • Enhancing entrepreneurship in students
  • Unintended consequences of education policies
  • PISA test scores and the illusions of excellence, science, progress.
  • His experience of being educated in China
  • The impact of technology on education
  • To compete with a machine, a person must avoid becoming one!
  • Be unique and great in your own way; understand yourself, your talents and virtues.
  • "Creative" means identifying problems worth solving
  • Empty creativity versus good creativity – the need to have a domain to excel in
  • What schools should be for: a place to equalise community resources
  • David Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle The Manufactured Crisis.
  • David Berliner as a former guest on the podcast
  • Diane Ravitch’s blog: https://dianeravitch.net/
  • If we want a better life in the future, we need to help our children create a better life for us

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I bring you my interview with Alfie Kohn, who writes and speaks about education, especially in areas such as homework, standardised testing and punishments and rewards. Among the items we discuss on the podcast are the following:

  • Fostering students’ curiosity and encouraging them to think deeply
  • Teachers participating with children in an exploration of ideas to move beyond factual knowledge
  • How teachers can teach to promote students’ thinking
  • The inverse relationship between teacher control and student learning
  • Why learning starts with a question
  • John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Ed Deci and Richard Ryan (Self-determination theory)
  • Why rewards and punishment don’t help children learn
  • Why saying “Good job” to your students is the equivalent of a “verbal doggy biscuit”
  • Children who are frequently praised are less generous than their peers
  • How children know when they’re being controlled and how they respond to it
  • How teachers can respond to students’ work and respect the child’s autonomy
  • Implementing a no-homework policy in a school
  • Why he believes that giving homework to children constitutes malpractice.
  • Excitement (about learning) drives excellence
  • Standardised tests and teacher accountability; Authentic assessments – tap into projects done by students over time
  • Why standardised teaching tells you only two things: (i) how much time was given to teaching test taking and (ii) how big the houses are near the school.
  • Differences between role of parent and teacher: Unconditional parenting and unconditional teaching
  • Punished by Rewards
  • Unconditional Parenting

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

One thing that often surprises me is how difficult it is for teachers to have an impact on students' health. It's not as if there aren't enough efforts through the curriculum and through various commercial ventures to promote health in schools. This week I look at some interesting research articles about education, health and nutrition and I identify six lessons that teachers might keep in mind if they want to think about educating children about health and nutrition in a way that will stick.

The programme is based on research articles that are listed below. The main points raised are:


  • Health and nutrition in the primary and post-primary school curricula in Ireland
  • Why a teacher’s example matters: Perikkou, A., Gavrieli, A., Kougioufa, M-M., Tzirkali, M., Yannakoulia, M. (2013). A novel approach for increasing fruit consumption in children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113: 1188-1193.
  • Promoting cooking competence after school: Jarpe-Ratner, E., Folkens, S., Sharma, S., Daro, D., & Edens, N.K. (2016). An experiential cooking and nutrition education program increases cooking self-efficacy and vegetable consumption in children in grades 3-8. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48(10), 697 – 705.
  • Boost students’ academic performance through sleep education: Gruber, R., Somerville, G., Bergmame, L., Fontil, L., & Paguin, S. (2016). School-based sleep education program improves sleep and academic performance of school-age children. Sleep Medicine, 21, 93-100.
  • Alienation from and hiding in physical education class: Carlson, T.B. (1995). We hate gym: Student alienation from physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 14: 467-477 and Lyngstad, I., Hagen, P-M., Aune, O. (2016). Understanding pupils’ hiding techniques in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 21(8): 1127-1143.
  • Eliminate or change treats: Shan, L.C., McCafferty, C., Tatlow-Golden, M., O’Rourke, C., Mooney, R., Livingstone, M.B.E., Pourshahidi, L.K., Corish, C., Kearney, J.M., Wall, P., & Murrin, C. Is it still a real treat? Adults’ treat provision to children. Appetite. 2018; 130: 228-235.
  • Changing food habits consistently in multiple dimensions over a sustained period of time. Merrotsy, A., McCarthy, A.L., Flack, J., Lacey, S., & Coppinger, T. Project Spraoi: A two-year longitudinal study on the effectiveness of a school-based nutrition and physical activity intervention on dietary intake, nutritional knowledge and markers of health of Irish schoolchildren. Public Health Nutr. 2019; 22(13), 2489-2499.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme I speak to Lorna Tormey and Pauline O'Reilly from the Home Education Network. Both Lorna and Pauline have decided to educate their children at home and the share the experience for the benefit of listeners who might be interested in doing the same, in the immediate term or in the future. Among the various topics we discuss are:

  • Why they began home educating their children
  • A typical day of home educating
  • Unschooling
  • Autonomous Education
  • John Holt
  • Not following a specific curriculum
  • A weekly routine that constantly changes
  • Giving up a career to home educate
  • Choices about secondary schooling and going to university
  • Learning algebra
  • How different families approach home education
  • Helpful sources of information for home education
  • Steiner Education (bringing together hands, heart and head)
  • Dealing with challenge
  • Dealing with boredom
  • How active parents are as home educators as children grow older
  • Difficult days and creating space for parents’ own projects
  • Support of the Home Education Network
  • Opportunities for children to socialise with other children
  • Play-based learning
  • World schooling
  • Advice for parents who are currently involved in involuntary home education
  • Deschooling

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I speak to my colleague in Marino Institute of Education, Ciara Reilly, about ideas for teaching online and offline while schools are closed. The initial impetus for our discussion was a padlet wall that Ciara developed to support teachers and which is available here. But our conversation covered many additional topics including the following:

  • Where to start in online teaching and learning at primary school in particular.
  • Digital Learning Framework.
  • The value of having children work as a group rather than individually
  • Use a timetable with children
  • Singapore experience
  • Acceptable Use Policies
  • What teachers expect from students
  • Planning for the future and online learning
  • Risk of children spending too much time on screen
  • The value of children being bored
  • Use of iPads and use of textbooks
  • Exam preparation for post-primary students
  • Things you can do offline
  • Hashtag for teachers to use on Twitter: #edshareie

And Ciara discusses many resources available to teachers and their students including the following:

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