Gravy with that sir?

I don’t know about you, but I get easily confused by what I’m supposed to call things. I mean, I don’t know if I’m a traditionalist, a progressive, a piagist or whatever. I’m not sure if I’m into mastery or fluency or any such description. I may well prefer directly instructing or guiding from the side. I’m not really sure. Probably at some point in the day a teacher is all of these things.

What I do know is this.

If you don’t practise stuff you forget it.

Everything else is gravy.

Over the past year I’ve been doing progressively more coding. Some of it’s actually quite good. I’ve surprised myself. What I do notice is that if I’m doing it for several days at a stretch I get quicker. Coding is like many high level tasks, 5% creativity, 5% inspiration and 90% sheer bloody repetitive boredom. When I come back to it after a couple of weeks away I make lots of mistakes. But after a few days this improves. I stop forgetting to put a semi-colon at the end of each line. I stop forgetting to close segments of code with a “?>”. I start to remember CSS rather than having to look it up every time. And every time I come back to it this process of re-learning is faster than before.

Now, I’m sure that supporters of each specific pedagogical approach would claim that their way is more likely to make students remember and be able use in context the things they have been taught. And remembering the tale of The Hare and the Tortoise, it’s quite possible that they are all right. All I will say is this. Whatever approach is used it is unlikely to succeed if it doesn’t involve rehearsal, practice and revisiting of required knowledge until retrieval is automatic.

How you achieve that? I don’t really care, as long as you do it.


One thought on “Gravy with that sir?

  1. And a major frustration of mine since I entered the English education system is that practice is generally denied. In primary schools, the sheer amount of stuff we have to cover, means we just don’t spend long enough on anyone area. Add to that the pressure of the expectation that teachers should always be teaching lessons.

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