OFSTED to Ban “Boring” Lessons

Welcome to the new term! And better make your lessons interesting because I see from today’s Guardian that OFSTED is blaming “boring” lessons for poor discipline and results.

I think we have to be honest about this and say that OFSTED are not entirely wrong on this one. If pupils are bored in their lessons they will look for distraction and for many this no longer means daydreaming or doodling but disrupting the lesson – which affects their own and everybody else’s learning and puts them into a discipliniary situation.

That being said, it still seems that OFSTED has indulged in a bit of teacher bashing. Sometimes, lessons are boring because the content of the syllabus is boring. Classroom teachers have no control over that; if your management have decided that you will teach Twenty First Century Science, then teach it you will if you wish to continue drawing your salary.

Fans of the above syllabus will say my perception of its boringness are entirely subjective (our Science Adviser thinks it is “lovely”) and perhaps they have a point. But will an OFSTED inspectors opinion of the boringness of your lessons be any more objective?

Example: a colleague was once taken to task because of his old-fashioned ways of teaching some of his low ability classes. His point was that these pupils were uncomfortable with “open ended”  learning and were far happier with explicit instructions of the “Carry out this experiment,  read that section of the text book and answer those questions” variety. They knew what was expected of them. Their behaviour was better with him than with other teachers and they appeared to learn more. But OFSTED would doubtless now condemn him as “boring”. How are they going to objectively assess how boring a lesson is when different classes require different teaching styles?

The other problem is that group of pupils who require being compelled to work as “boring”. Watch out for disruptive students blaming you for their bad behaviour: “Don’t blame me. It’s your fault ‘cos you’re borin’ me.” And if not them, their parents.

Perhaps I am misjudging OFSTED and they have anticipated all this. We shall see. Watch this space.

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6 Responses to “OFSTED to Ban “Boring” Lessons”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    The variation on that is, “You explained that wrong. I’m a visual/kinaesthetic/auditory learner and you need to accommodate for that”.

    “I think best when I’m moving – you just think I’m fidgeting and failing to pay attention just ‘cos I don’t want to answer stupid questions that are posed the wrong way.”

  2. kelvinthroop Says:

    Oh, yes. The delights of Multiple Intelligence. I’m planning a blogpost on that.

  3. darthtater Says:

    Oh yes it’s building up at our place now. “I don’t learn like that so I don’t have to do it.” Meanwhile kids like Tater jnr. who would have learned really well from the boring lessons I had in the 70s are underachieving in subjects where teachers have tried to make the learning active and fun at the expense of any interesting content. My own view is that VAK MI and any other such stuff merely serve to provide handy excuses for failure to learn rather than a way to learn better. “They didn’t teach me the right way that’s why I failed”. I wonder when the world will see teh first wrong-learning-style lawsuit? The only reasonably well designed study I can remember reading about found no benefit (and maybe some detriment) tin teaching according to preferred learning style.

  4. noitacude Says:

    There may not be MI. But there are different ways of teaching something.

    Of course some things are better taught using some specific method and some students do learn better one way than another. But it is really better said that some don’t learn well some ways. My wife tells me the names of various people she works with, but I can never keep them straight until I meet them and put a face to the name. Then I understand.

    The constant repetition of something I don’t understand is boring, Even more boring is the constant repetition of something I do understand. Not boring is something that engages me at some level of discovery. Now, of course, if I don’t give a fig about what is being taught then I am bored no matter what you do. It is not possible to have 20-30 students in a room all interested and all at the same level of discovery of an academic subject.

    So how can a normal person, who is a teacher, keep all those students on track and interested at one time? They can’t. It is just that simple. The best teachers can rapidly change back and forth between different levels and types of instruction so that they act like a strobe light, alternately keeping each level engaged and moving forward. They are the Olympic athletes of teaching <1%. Other teachers are good at it, but lose a few, they are the pro athletes 99%. Some are less than competent, injuring themselves thinking about running. >your opinion%

    When you consider the huge numbers of people needed in teaching, you can’t expect them all to be Olympians. Competent would be good.

    If automobiles were still built at the 1914 level of technology, traffic deaths would be astronomical and nobody would get to work on time. They aren’t and we do. Not because everyone is Mario Andretti, but because the systems of driving have improved to make all those idiots on the roadways somewhat competent. Teaching needs the same thing.

    So much of teacher education/training is “Why aren’t you Mario Andretti?” (Well, because I’m not. But that level of honesty is not accepted.) So everyone pretends that teachers who don’t actually kill their students are wonderful examples of teaching excellence.

    Responsible bureaucrats spout wonderful phrases and hope for Plato’s Republic. It’s not happening, but bureaucrats must deliver. So the most debased of teachers are declared God’s very gift to humanity in the form of education and Victory Against the Forces of Darkness is declared. . .at least until the next election.

  5. noitacude Says:

    Interesting. It should read:

    They are the Olympic athletes of teaching <1%. Other teachers are good at it, but lose a few, they are the pro athletes "99%”. Some are less than competent, injuring themselves thinking about running. >your opinion%.

    See it this works. The < keys are obliterating text.

  6. noitacude Says:

    Okay:
    They are the Olympic athletes of teaching less than 1%. Other teachers are good at it, but lose a few, they are the pro athletesless than 1%. Some are competent more than 99%. Some are less than competent, injuring themselves thinking about running. >your opinion%.

    Competent and less than competent overlap. The vision you have is your opinion.

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