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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I discuss several matters related to teacher education with Professor Ian Menter from Oxford University's Department of Education. The topics we discuss are the following:

  • The Teacher Education Groups study of teacher education policy across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
  • How England is an outlier in attempts to weaken the link between universities and schools in teacher education.
  • Work he’s doing in Ireland with the National Institute for Studies in Education (NISE) based on collaboration across the three teacher education institutions based there.
  • His overview of developments in teacher education across the five nations.
  • The Teach First model of teacher education and its impact on the wider system.
  • Teacher retention and teacher burn-out
  • Evidence-based Teaching: Trials conducted by the Educational Endowment Foundation. The work of the Chartered College of Teaching in England, which has a remit similar to that of Teaching Councils elsewhere; its CEO, Alison Peacock, is committed to evidence-based teaching.
  • How teachers can develop research literacy through their initial teacher education courses and through continuing professional development that is oriented towards evidence-based inquiry.
  • A tendency for post-holders in schools to be “research leads” – people who overview what is happening in school in terms of research and development, who seek outside research that could inform practice and who liaise with universities on research. In some cases there may be research committees in schools.
  • How these ideas can be traced back to the writings of John Dewey and Lawrence Stenhouse – the latter was writing about the “teacher as researcher” in 1975.
  • An increased range of publications now in which research is published for a teacher readership.
  • The need to fund longitudinal research studies into how teachers learn teaching and independent, large-scale studies into teaching and teacher education to inform practice and policy.
  • Envisages greater interaction between the practice, policy and research communities
  • Teachers as researchers
  • Economic (preparing for the workforce), citizenship (engage in community and political system) and cultural (ideas, history to have a sense of the meaning of the world around us) have been the historical purposes of education. Different forces operate behind each of the aims and the balance among them can vary.
  • Research training schools in Finland, linked to universities could be explored more systematically elsewhere.
  • Teacher as a researcher v teacher as a reflective practitioner: Phases on a four-point continuum:
    • Effective teacher
    • Reflective teacher
    • Inquiring teacher and
    • Transformative teacher
  • The kind of initial preparation needed for future primary teachers
  • Difficulties in assessing a student teacher’s preparedness for success in the classroom.
  • Comparison between difficulties in evaluating a teacher’s potential and evaluating potential elite players in sports.
  • His views on having common standards for teachers – benefits and limitations
  • How he came to begin his career as a primary school teacher – the intellectual, emotional and personal challenges of teaching
  • Making the transition from being a teacher to being a teacher educator
  • What schools are for (and not for)
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him
  • Favourite writers on education: C Wright Mills The Sociological Imagination, which is about the relationship between personal experience and problems in society. Paolo Freire on education for liberation and education for democracy.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's programme I bring you a special episode for Maths Week and to mark the seventh conference of Mathematics Education in Ireland held last weekend in Dublin City University's Institute of Education. First I speak to Dr. Siún Nic Mhuirí (from 1'43") from Dublin City University about the Maths4All project she's working on. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • The Maths4All website and resources
  • Alan Schoenfeld's Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) framework
  • Challenges of developing video representations of teaching
  • Pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching mathematics
  • Her thoughts on this year’s Mathematics Education in Ireland conference
  • A message about the importance of believing that maths is for all students

Next I speak to Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai from the University of Reading (from 15' 51") about using picture story books to teach mathematics.We discuss the following:

  • His goal to have mathematics picture story books used in both primary and secondary schools to teach mathematics
  • Why picture books can help students learn abstract topics
  • Handa’s Surprise
  • Sir Cumference series
  • Using a picture book to provide context for a lesson
  • Reading a story to apply learning to help characters in a story solve a problem
  • How to use a maths picture story book in a mathematics lesson
  • Benefits of using maths picture story books
  • How children react to using maths picture story books in maths class
  • Children writing their own maths picture story books
  • Papert’s theory of constructionism
  • When should maths picture story books be used in mathematics teaching
  • His website mathsthroughstories.org
  • His view of effective mathematics teaching
  • The journey that brought him from Thailand to England
  • Why he likes the Times Educational Supplement

The episode closes with a rant from me about teaching mathematics. I refer to the following books:


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's programme I discuss how research can inform teaching with Professor Chris Brown from Durham University's School of Education. Professor Brown discusses his work with teachers in professional learning networks, how teachers can apply research in their schools, and the barriers to doing so.

Among the topics discussed are the following:

  • How frequently do teachers consult research to solve problems of teaching?
  • The need to draw first on teachers’ knowledge and experience
  • How does research add to, challenge or deepen teachers’ knowledge?
  • The importance of teachers collaboratively engaging with and looking at research
  • Having an “evidence champion” in a school and partnerships with higher education institutions
  • The quality of research available to teachers (original, significant, robust methods)
  • Different kinds of research (Stokes’s quadrant)
  • Carol Weiss and instrumental research use, conceptual research use and symbolic research use (9’22” – 10’08")
  • Drawing on research to develop theories of action
  • Teachers’ access to published research
  • Networks of teachers and effective change management (17’36). The focus of the four whole-day workshops each year is:
    1. Vision and engagement with research
    2. Trialling
    3. Change Management
    4. Impact
  • Leadership and degree centrality (24’53”)
  • Evaluating “best practice” (27’58”)
  • Areas of research that have been particularly helpful in informing teachers’ practice (30’26”)
  • Factors that influence what and how research influences policy (31’49”)
  • Professional Learning Networks (34’45”)
  • The role played by encouragement, trust, social influence, and innovation in promoting research-informed practice (35’59”)
  • Avoiding edu-myths or other dead-ends in research (39’39”)
  • What are schools for (40’51”)
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him (42’17”)
  • What inspires him (43’17”)

Among the people named by Chris Brown in the course of the interview are Stephen Ball, Jean Baudrillard, Alan Daly, Jim Spillane and Carol Weiss, some of whom have appeared on previous episodes of Inside Education: Ball, Spillane.

The paper that I reported on in the research section is Fan, H., Xu, J., Cai, Z., He, J & Fan, X. (2017). Homework and students' achievement in math and science: A 30-year meta-analysis, 1986-2015.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune: David Vesey

My guest on the programme this week is my colleague in Marino Institute of Education and the person behind the social media identity, Little Miss Teacher. She is Clara Fiorentini and we talk about play, literacy, phonics, early years education and much more. Here are the topics we discuss and the times at which they appear.  

  • Why she started posting on social media (1’33”)
  • Her thoughts on the new language curriculum and her interest in literacy, especially early literacy (7’00” and 24’11”))
  • A typical day in her classroom (with a focus on literacy activities)
  • Different kinds of play 12’03”
  • The kind of stories she used in her teaching (14’35”)
  • Phonics and literacy instruction (16’22”)
  • Literacy in more senior classes (21’42”)
  • The phonics programme she participated in developing, Sounds Like Phonics (23’46”)
  • Her approach to teaching (26’48”)
  • Returning to study for a master’s degree in children’s literature (29’50”)
  • What schools are for 33’41”
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on her (34’48”)
  • Who inspires her (39’13”)

Among the resources and materials mentioned by Clara were the following:

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michell Magorian

David Walliams

The book with no pictures by BJ Novak

Rita Pierson – Ted Talk – Every child deserves a champion

Jen Jones on picture books


My recommendation:

Podcast: Speak-Up Storytelling with Matthew and Elysha Dicks

Book: Storyworthy: Engage, teach, persuade and change your life through the power of storytelling by Matthew Dicks

Presented and Produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

This week my guest on the programme is Leadership expert Professor Andy Hargreaves. Andy Hargreaves is Research Professor at Boston College, Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University, Professor at the University of Stavanger, and Honorary Professor at Swansea University. 

Over the course of our 42-minute conversation, we covered a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • The effect of wealth inequality on people in many countries and the implications for education
  • Negative effects the international test PISA has had on education systems and why the focus on such results is changing in some countries
  • How the focus has now moved to matters such as identity and belonging
  • Three things have happened which have led to a revised agenda for schools to respond to:
    • Existing methods and strategies have become exhausted in seeking additional marginal gains on international tests
    • People start to sense that something is amiss (backlash against testing from middle-class parents – “coasting schools” in the UK and mental health issues among children and problems of teacher recruitment and retention)
    • Changes in society as an impetus for change: People are asking how do refugees and immigrants affect our curriculum and sense of community? How do we respond to school shootings and violence in North America? Anxiety among adolescent girls associated with social media
  • (Irish primary) teachers’ preparedness to respond to matters such as equity, identity and wellbeing.
  • Why identity is more important than achievement (with reference to Franco-Ontarian community)
  • Responding to conflicting identities
    • Welcome all children and every aspect of their identity
    • Recognising that many reasons may underlie why students struggle with their learning other than being unable to master a concept
    • Understanding that most identities are flawed and that societies have values which people are expected to subscribe to
  • How anxiety, narcissism and hopelessness are impacting on young people’s wellbeing.
    • May be related to lack of mobility/lack of opportunity. Public services (library, education, health service and housing) may not be as strong as in the past. The need to reinvest in public life, including teaching to promote mobility
    • Ideas of success have become skewed. The need to see success in ways other than monetary value and having a sense of fulfilment.
    • He refers to the work of Jean Twenge: With advent of smart phones adolescents (especially girls) are less prone to experience violence, to drugs, to alcohol and to early pregnancy but much more prone to anxiety, depression, self-harming and suicidal thoughts, mainly because they’re not going out. Instead they’re getting less sleep, digitally enhancing pictures of themselves and comparing themselves to others, and responding to postings from others (including mean ones)
  • Why he disagrees with schools banning mobile phones.
  • He would like to see more outdoor education, more adventure, more working in the community, more connection to the environment and more face-to-face interactions.
  • What is wrong with wellbeing? (Seeing it as an individual solution to a huge systemic problem; schools creating wellbeing in one part of their work and creating “ill”-being in another part; wellbeing can be interpreted differently across cultures e.g. happiness, fulfilment, duty to parents, respect for elders, loyalty to the group, attention to your family, delayed gratification, etc. Being calm, which is often prioritised by schools, is only one way to be well – exuberance, physical engagement, and happiness are others.)
  • What is wrong with growth mindset? It can detract attention from other factors that affect learning (poverty, disadvantage, prejudice) but growth mindset is still a powerful idea.
  • How teacher collaboration can help schools respond to the problems outlined.
  • Teachers who collaborate with colleagues do better, on average, than those who do not. Children learn more, teachers are more motivated and engaged, it’s better for implementing change
  • Professional Learning Communities – tended to be liked by administrators but considered to be contrived and constraining by teachers in some countries.
  • A question Professor Hargreaves asked in his research: “If collaboration is good sometimes, but not always, how should collaboration be designed?” Build trust and relationships and establish helpful procedures and protocols around collaboration.
  • Sometimes collaboration is most important where it is most difficult – in difficult to serve areas or in areas experiencing rural poverty.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

This week's programme is the last for the school year 2018-19. We look at topics relating to the end of the primary school year: school tours (in a continuation of my conversation with Caitriona Cosgrave and Martin Kennedy from last week's programme), summer courses for teachers (with my colleague, Dr. Gene Mehigan), and presents for teachers (again with Martin Kennedy and Caitriona Cosgrave).

I wish all listeners to the podcast a great summer. I always love to get your feedback on it by e-mail (insideeducation@dublincityfm.ie) or through Twitter. Similarly suggestions for future topics or guests are always welcome.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

This week I follow up on last week's programme where I shared some of my own ideas about school tours by talking to two practitioners who have lots of experience of organising school tours and field trips - as teacher and as principal. Caitriona Cosgrave teaches second class in Scoil Áine Girls School in Raheny and Martin Kennedy is principal of Scoil Cholmcille in Skryne, Co. Meath.

Among the topics discussed on the programme are:

  • School Tour venues and activities
  • Choosing a school-wide theme for school tours; variety and continuity in tours
  • Bringing parents on a school tour with children
  • Creating memories on school tours
  • Learning on school tours
  • Going abroad for primary school tours
  • Preparing for school tours

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

On this week's programme I talk about school tours and how to make them more educational. Among the topics discussed on the programme are:

  • Where to go
  • Health and safety
  • Risk Assessment
  • Cost
  • Planning the tour
  • Bringing the route to life
  • Communicating with parents about the school tour
  • Other venues
  • Resources

Here is a link to ships and boats certified by the Marine Survey Office of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Educational materials that can be used to support school tours are available from the National Museum  here and here and from the National Gallery.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

On this week's programme I bring you the second and final part of my interview with Professor John P. Miller from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. John P. Miller is the author of The Holistic Curriculum, the third edition of which was recently published. Among the matters we discussed on the programme this week were:

  • The importance of examining our beliefs
  • The soul as the unconditioned self
  • The connection between holistic education and mental health
  • The relationship between holistic education and affective education, humanistic education, confluent education and transpersonal education.
  • The Holistic Ed Review started by Ron Miller
  • The lack of university programmes in holistic education up to doctoral level
  • What school is for
  • The Sudbury Valley School

People mentioned by John P. Miller

Books/authors mentioned on the programme:

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

On this week's programme I speak to John P. (Jack) Miller, of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and author of of The Holistic Curriculum, about holistic education. Among the topics discussed on the programme are:

  • What is holistic education?
  • In a tradition from indigenous people, Buddha, Socrates, Plato, Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau, Peabody and Tolstoy up to Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia.
  • How The Equinox Holistic School in Toronto was inspired by and follows the ideas in Miller’s book, The Holistic Curriculum. The story of the school is told here.
  • Use of textbooks and a holistic curriculum
  • What is the experience of a holistic curriculum like for a student?
  • Autonomy for children in holistic education settings
  • Characteristics of teachers to teach holistically
  • Difference between teaching a subject holistically and teaching the same subject conventionally
  • Planning for holistic teaching
  • James Bean and integrated curriculum
  • Susan Drake and integrated curriculum
  • Relationship between holistic education and wisdom
  • The difference between contemplation and reflection and mindfulness
  • Religious education and spirituality education
  • The work of Thomas Moore on Spirituality and Education; also Parker Palmer and Rachel Kessler

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