In this episode of the Progressively Incorrect podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jasmine Lane. Jasmine is a secondary English teacher who recently moved from the U.S. to teach in England. I first came across Jasmine through her blog, jasmineteaches.wordpress.com, which was originally about her experiences as a first-year teacher. Back in those days, I was finding myself a bit overconfident about a great number of things in education. For example, I was sure that teachers should teach from the side and let students lead the learning, and that teaching facts was pointless compared to teaching students how to think. If schools are to prepare students for the 21st century, I assumed the clearest route was through project-based learning and following students’ interests and passions.
Then, all of a sudden, here was this blog, written by a first year teacher no less, that pretty much said the opposite. It’s the teacher’s job, Jasmine wrote, to lead the learning and it is knowledge – of the world that exists beyond the child’s immediate experiences – that ultimately makes successful thinking possible. Rather than focusing on winning students’ hearts through dioramas and student inquiries, teachers should focus on high expectations and effective teaching. I would be lying if I said that Jasmine’s writing didn’t frustrate me at the time, for it was basically saying that my beliefs and approaches to teaching; the things I had been taught to do and praised for doing; were probably not what’s best for kids. Reading articles such as Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006), which Kirschner and I talk about in Season 2 Episode 1 of this podcast, forced me to reconsider many of my views, and I soon found myself turning to Jasmine’s blog again, but this time for her advice on curriculum and research-informed teaching.
Then one day, to the delight of many British teachers on Twitter, I read Jasmine’s announcement that she was leaving the U.S. and it’s messy education system to have a go at teaching in London with the English national curriculum. Since then, I’ve been eternally curious: After one year of teaching in the UK, how have things been going? Are Jasmine’s – and now many of my ideas about pedagogy – encouraged and nurtured in the English system, or is teaching in England no better than teaching in Minnesota or Washington State? We get into all of this and more in this episode, which, I have to say, is a fantastic listen. Be sure to throw her a follow on Twitter and check out her blog.