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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this podcast I discussed social and emotional learning with Professor Sara Rimm-Kaufman from the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development.

Among the topics discussed were:

  • What social and emotional learning is
  • The implicit and explicit process of learning social and emotional skills
  • How children can learn empathy
  • Her book for teachers: SEL from the Start
  • From listening to respectful communication to respecting others’ perspectives
  • Where social emotional learning fits in the regular school curriculum
  • What service learning is and examples of it in practice
  • Three possible categories of service learning solutions: Educate others, change a policy or take direct action.
  • The relationship between service learning and project-based learning
  • How Sara Rimm-Kaufman and her colleagues (including Tracy Harkins and Eileen Merritt) developed Connect Science, a scheme that uses the service learning approach to combine social emotional learning and academic content
  • Applying service learning in different curriculum subject areas
  • The notion of “fidelity of implementation” in education research (and an “intent to treat” analysis)
  • The theme that characterises her research interests: the centrality of social emotional learning (e.g. for racial equity) and the widespread practices in school that have never been studied but would benefit from research into their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness
  • The source of her research interests
  • Her early research on primates and working with Professor Jerry Kagan to subsequently working in schools with children in first grade.
  • Why she likes conducting research in schools, despite the challenges such research brings
  • Relational trust – what it is and why it is important among the adults in a school
  • Who has responsibility for building relational trust among the adult community in a school?
  • Building relational trust with and among children in a school
  • The relation between a teacher’s beliefs and their practice – a bidirectional process.
  • She loves the work of Dan Willingham, a former guest on this podcast.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

In this episode I speak to Professor Art Baroody from the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about matters related to counting and early mathematical development. Professor Baroody shares insights from his extensive research in children's early mathematical learning with anecdotes from his life and work. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • The word “count” is ambiguous; he prefers the terms verbal counting and object counting. Along with subitising, these are foundational for children’s sense of number.
  • The rote portion of numbers (up to 12 in English) and the rule-governed portion of numbers (13 onwards in English)
  • Being able to meaningfully count objects means understanding the cardinality principle
  • How a teacher can assess a child’s competence in object counting. The “hidden stars” game.
  • The importance of subitising (easily recognising, without counting, the number in a set). If a child can subitise small sets of objects and connect it to their verbal counting knowledge, the child can get insights into the structure of the count sequence and into our number system.
  • The importance of children understanding the “increasing magnitude” principle of numbers.
  • Subitising and learning addition and subtraction concepts
  • The value of playing dice games.
  • The successor principle: Each step in the counting sequence means you added one more.
  • A child who starts out behind in kindergarten, typically gets further behind as school goes on, indicating the importance of informal mathematical knowledge for school readiness.
  • Three components of a hypothetical learning trajectory: a goal, a learning progression, instructional activities that help children move from one level to the next.
  • The relevance of a hypothetical learning trajectory for a teacher’s work: questions and instruction need to be developmentally appropriate for children.
  • What number comes after 9? Whether you need to start at 1 or can answer this directly depends on your current level of understanding numbers.
  • How schools typically target instruction at a level that is too low or too high for students.
  • There are many published learning progressions and hypothetical learning trajectories available to teachers now, especially in number, arithmetic and counting development.
  • A child’s mathematical power, routine expertise (learning something by rote – hard to apply it to a new problem and easy to forget) and adaptive expertise (learning something with understanding)
  • Mathematical power comes from understanding, engaging in mathematical inquiry, to reason mathematically, to solve problems, having an interest in mathematics and using it. In short, conceptual understanding, mathematical thinking skills, and a positive disposition towards mathematics
  • Example of applying knowledge to finding the area of a parallelogram
  • Why memorising mathematics by rote is crazy.
  • All children, even those with learning disabilities, can develop mathematical power up to lower secondary school level, if properly taught.
  • Teaching mathematics by rote is cheating children.
  • Things that can be discovered are the additive commutativity principle (3+5 = 5+3)
  • Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for.
  • Why getting children to learn off tables of number facts is cheating children. The importance of seeing patterns and relationships in the number tables – make it a thinking exercise and make mathematics learning fun.
  • Working with his mentor Herb Ginsburg
  • The use of manipulatives in teaching mathematics, even to college-level students.
  • The value of children inventing procedures themselves.
  • To understand fraction multiplication, the analogy of multiplication as repeated addition does not suffice. You need a more powerful analogy. A “groups of” analogy is more helpful. And it helps you understand why multiplication doesn’t always make something bigger.
  • How to make sense of fraction division.
  • How he conducts his research (Case study; random controlled trials)
  • Substitution errors in reading
  • John Holt’s books
  • John Dewey’s book, Experience and Education 
  • Why parents and teachers need to be patient
  • The power of examples and non-examples when teaching mathematics.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

In this episode I speak to Professor David T. Hansen from Teachers' College, Columbia University about the philosophy of education and the practice of teaching. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

  • What it means to see teaching as an art, as a political activity and as a moral endeavour.
  • Direct lessons about morality/values/ethics versus the continuous enactment of moral values.
  • What hand-raising and turn-taking reveals about classroom culture and establishing dialogue among students (teachers and their students coming closer and closer apart and further and further together).
  • Teaching as a profession? Teaching as vocation, calling, practice, craft? The attraction of teaching for people who want to live a meaningful life.
  • Reworking his original book, The Call to Teach in 2021 as Reimagining the Call to Teach in response to (a) Accountability movement in the United States, linked to No Child Left Behind; and (b) Having learned more about the practice of teaching.
  • How the implementation of No Child Left Behind in the United States was tone-deaf to classroom life. Huge resources benefited private testing companies rather than professional development for teachers.
  • A poetics of teaching: What poetics means (comes from Aristotle trying to figure out why drama on a stage has the kind of effects it has on the spectators long after the play has ended). In this article, Hansen tries to understand the impact of teaching.
  • Recognising the poetics of teaching; teaching is a rhythmic practice where poetics can be found alongside its drudgery/frustration/failure.
  • How we all fail regularly in teaching but we rarely discuss it.
  • What he means when he says that anyone interviewing a teacher for a job wants to know if the teacher loves life.
  • Finding meaningfulness in teaching
  • Programmes for veteran teachers to rejuvenate, reinspire, renew and refresh themselves.
  • One example of such a programme is a “descriptive review” of a child.
  • The importance of working on craft with initial student candidates; more can be done on the art of teaching – draw out a sense of their own humanity, possibly through story, poetry, film or a painting.
  • How teaching is saturated with “why” questions – invitations to philosophy.
  • Philosophy as theory and as an art of living (wisdom tradition)
  • Cosmopolitanism: being reflectively loyal and reflectively open
  • Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.
  • Plato and John Dewey.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

Theme tune composed by David Vesey.

On this episode of Inside Education, engineer Patricia Scanlon of Soapbox Labs discusses how improving how well software can recognise children's voices can support how teachers teach, assess and give feedback on reading and enhance equity in the classroom. Among the topics discussed are:

  • How children’s voices differ to adult voices
  • How voice recognition software has been found to be biased in favour of some populations over others
  • How she became interested in applying speech recognition technology to education after watching her daughter experience the limits of educational software when she was learning to read and do mathematics
  • Applying speech recognition technology to teaching reading – the software acts like a helpful adult who “listens” to and “assesses” the child’s reading.
  • The software is used in dyslexia screeners, reading practice products, fluency assessment products, speech therapy.
  • Use of the software at home and in classrooms
  • The use of rapid naming as one of a suite of tasks in a screening tool that aims to predict dyslexia in pre-literate children, thus making earlier intervention possible
  • The promise of voice recognition software for making school more inclusive for children of all abilities
  • Applying the voice recognition software to languages other than English
  • How practising reading can be formatively assessed using voice recognition software
  • Feedback to encourage the student, to correct a child’s pronunciation of a sound, or to identify errors for the teacher
  • Why Soapbox Labs’s niche is with children’s voice recognition software
  • How they worked alongside teachers to develop the software
  • Collecting data and looking at data privacy
  • Future plans for developing the software

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune composed by David Vesey

On this week's podcast I speak to cognitive scientist, Professor Daniel T Willingham from the University of Virginia. We discuss learning to read, learning styles, multiple intelligences, education research and more. The full range of topics includes:

  • Applying the science of learning in school and at home
  • Paradigms of cognitive psychology (reasonable assumptions)
  • How cognitive science replaced behaviourism
  • How cognitive science might inform the teaching of different subjects across the curriculum
  • The relationship between basic science and applied science for teachers
  • Why an opportunity exists for teacher organisations to review science and provide periodic updates for teachers to critique ideas (such as say, grit).
  • Initial teacher education should provide a grounding in the science of learning and subsequently teachers’ knowledge needs to be updated as the science evolves (and why the onus for such updating should not be on individual teachers)
  • Among the few reliable publications for teachers he'd recommend are American Educator, and Phi Delta Kappan.
  • Evaluating the relative importance of technical competence (decoding) and motivation in learning to read.
  • The difference between reading a book and listening to an audio book (How prosody helps comprehension in audio books and how regressions help us in comprehending text) and why textbooks are different.
  • Can audiobooks help a child who is having difficulties learning to decode?
  • Criticism of the learning styles theory of the mind – there’s no scientific basis to pedagogies based on learning styles. Why style differs to memory and ability and the importance of meaning in learning. Learning styles may offer a different ways for a teacher to think about topics they’re going to teach.
  • The construct of mental ability and multiple intelligences. Is intelligence one single construct or is it several independent constructs?
  • Can critical thinking be taught? Can being a good critical thinker in one domain help you think critically in other domains? The importance of seeing the same underlying structure in various guises when practising critical thinking.
  • How he evaluates the value or potential contribution of a research article in education.
  • Contradictions in educational research – parallels with COVID-19 research. Why professional organisations need to tease out research implications for teachers.
  • Why he reads very broadly in education.
  • Daniel Willingham’s “2002-style” website. He’s on Facebook and Twitter @dtwillingham. His most recent books are Why don’t students like school (2nd out now) and Outsmart your brain (August 2022).

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

Theme tune by David Vesey.

On podcast 420, I welcome back Stanford University School of Education Professor William (Bill) Damon who was one of the first guests on this year's schedule to discuss his new book, A round of golf with my father: The new psychology of exploring your past to make peace with your present. Among the topics  we discuss on this bonus episode are the following:

  • Different interpretations of what a life story is
  • Life Studies by Robert Lowell
  • Your intention for telling a life story
  • What a life review is and why it can be done at any stage of life
  • How William Damon adapted Robert Butler’s life review idea for his purpose.
  • How to go about doing a life review
    • Talk to people who remember your past
    • Records (school and others, ancestry searches)
    • Memory search
    • Putting it all together – focusing on what gave you satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Why he never met his father
  • How school records have changed since the 1950s.
  • How his father’s character developed over time, possibly through the demands and experiences of military service in World War II.
  • What he learned about his own character from doing the life review
  • Why character is a movie and not a snapshot
  • Why he believes that psychological theories such as some of Freud’s work and the “big five personality traits” are wrong
  • How he went about making a personal story interesting for an audience beyond his immediate circle of family and friends
  • How a life review can help you find a purpose in your life
  • How someone not looking for a purpose can find one
  • His mother’s role in his life review
  • His definition of purpose
  • His memories of being taught by some of the pioneering psychologists of the twentieth century, including Erik Erikson and Jerome Kagan who was a guest on Inside Education a few years ago: Podcast 1 and Podcast 2  and who passed away in May 2021.
  • Some of his earlier books: Some do care (with his wife, Anne Colby), Noble Purpose, The Moral Child and Greater Expectations.
  • Why he called the book A Round of Golf with my Father when he never met his father!


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I speak to Deirdre Hodson who works in the European Commission’s department for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture in Brussels. She provides a European Union policy perspective on technology and sustainability in education. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • How she came to work in the area of digital education policy and her studies in the area
  • Ben Williamson
  • Neil Selwyn
  • How her studies contributed to her work as a policymaker
  • How the pandemic is likely to impact on policy and practice
  • The need for schools to have digital strategies
  • The importance of the school as a whole being the unit of change and of hearing the student voice
  • The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning
  • How countries reaped the benefits of investment in digital resources in education during the pandemic
  • Asking what we can learn from remote teaching and learning as a result of the pandemic
  • Broadening the education infrastructure to include collaboration with libraries and museums
  • The origin, purpose and launch of the SELFIE diagnostic/planning tool she was involved in developing
  • How SELFIE has been used and a new SELFIE tool for teachers to be launched in October 2021.
  • Report on Artificial Intelligence in Education
  • Examples of interesting practices in digital education across Europe
  • An account of a visit to a school in Finland and the phenomenon-based learning and to one in Austria
  • Sustainability, digital technologies, accessibility and inclusion
  • Risks and threats of technology alongside opportunities (e.g. data protection; student and teacher agency)
  • Differences between aspects of a teacher’s job that are routine (e.g. marking) and those that are human (e.g. coaching and mentoring)
  • Neil Selwyn Should robots replace teachers?
  • Challenges of not being able to hold the regular Leaving Certificate examinations in 2020.
  • The value of learning languages
  • Erasmus and E-Twinning: Léargas
  • Neil Selwyn’s book Distrusting Educational Technology: Critical Questions for Changing Times

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

In this podcast I explore the topic of education and autism by speaking to a classroom teacher, Graham Manning from Cork, and a university researcher, Professor Steffie van der Steen from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Among the topics we discuss are:

  • How Graham became coordinator of classes for autistic students in school
  • The organisation with which Graham undertook training on helping students develop good sleeping habits.
  • How Steffie became interested in researching autism and the education of students with autism in the Netherlands.
  • The Salamanca Statement on special needs education:
  • Graham’s class arrangements from a student’s perspective
  • Different needs of autistic students from primary to secondary school
  • Graham’s problem with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Education in New Brunswick and that province's views on inclusion versus segregation
  • Excellence in practice: visiting homes of students who apply for the special class and managing transitions from primary to secondary school and from secondary to third level.
  • Graham referred to a quote widely attributed to Dr. Stephen Shore that “when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
  • Steffie’s research findings that are relevant for teachers: assessing young children on science concepts (Marble task and air pressure task); four categories of teachers’ needs in relation to teaching students with special needs: cooperation, academic tools, social aspects, reassurance for insecure newly qualified teachers; her hypothesis about the need to ask students both higher- and lower- order questions.
  • Students learned from years of experience with students with autism and getting to know them.
  • Lessons teachers can take from her experience of assessing young students with special education needs: variation in questions and hands-on tasks.
  • Classroom interactions in Graham’s class for autistic students (Building relationships, subject planning, spending time outdoors, making meals together in the “home room,” creating a safe space)
  • Steffie’s research (with her doctoral student, Lisette de Jonge-Hoekstra) on the relationship between children’s speech and their gestures when working on a task (including “gesture-speech mismatch)
  • Steffie on animal-assisted therapy for students with autism
  • Graham on why there are insufficient special classes in post-primary schools
  • Steffie recommends: https://scholar.google.com/.
  • Graham recommends The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

This week my guest on the podcast is expert on assessment, feedback and academic integrity, Professor Phillip Dawson from Deakin University. Among the topics we discuss on the podcast are the following:

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I speak to Professor Gregory Cajete from Santa Clara Pueblo and the University of New Mexico about indigenous education and what contemporary western education can learn from such rich traditions. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • Belonging to the Tewa tribe and what is particular about that tribe.
  • Numbers in different tribes such as the Navajo, Cherokee, the Hopi and the Tewa.
  • Being the first member of his family to attend public school
  • Previously native Americans would have attended federal boarding schools (created by Pratt), with a basic academic curriculum
  • Professor Cajete refers to “Charles Pratt” but this may be a mistaken reference to Richard Henry Pratt, to whom the expression “Kill the Indian, save the man” was attributed.
  • Tribal College Union established in the 1970s (36 colleges – like first and second year of colleges; giving 2-year degrees)
  • Defining indigenous education: Distinction between native American students attending US public schools (including the Bureau of Indian affair schools and religious denominational schools) – education as assimilation versus traditional indigenous education including stories, history, customs and language of the people.
  • Relationality as the basis of indigenous education – developing a relationship to the place in which we live
  • In indigenous education people ask the question, “how am I related to this?” versus the predominant “western” question “What is this?”
  • Currently attempts are being made to introduce native American language, culture and traditions into US public schools
  • Epistemology (how we come to know what we know) of indigenous education involves storytelling, ceremony, participation in community, rhythm and dance.
  • Axiology (what is the focus of/what has value in?) of indigenous education is about establishing a balanced relationship with your environment, including human and other-than-human entities; a place-based world view (based on where you live).
  • Logic of indigenous education is ecological and is one of balanced interdependence. It is part of an understanding that everything you do impacts everything around you.
  • The Lakota people say “We are all related.”
  • The “intractable conflict” between indigenous education and public school education in the United States
  • Why the curriculum focused on subject-matter is object-focused and parts-oriented whereas native education is ecological, sustainable and holistic.
  • Shortcomings of the subject-based curriculum include that it doesn’t teach for relationality or about the ecological mandate, the pre-requisite for sustainability; these are “specialised fields” whereas in indigenous education, you learn these from the day you’re born and reinforced consistently throughout one’s lifetime. Consequently you acquire a life-centred focus.
  • Many native artists are entrepreneurial while maintaining a traditional viewpoint. An economic focus is on benefiting the community, not just oneself.
  • Gary Nabhan is not native American but he writes about native forms of agriculture.
  • Enrique Salmón too has written on this topic.
  • Books Greg Cajete has written:
  • Values that underpin indigenous education
  • O. Wilson’s biophilic sensibility – caring and empathy for each other, caring and empathy for the natural world and caring and empathy for your soul
  • The indigenous stages of developmental learning; finding the essence of your soul.
  • Question: What does it mean to become a full human being? Chant: One must first find one’s face (you identity), one must then find one’s heart, finally one must find one’s foundation (what you stand on) in the context of relationship, responsibility, respect and resonance, with one’s self, one’s community, one’s place, then with one’s world, within the context of your relationship with the cosmos.

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