Flip Cameras in English (UK)

From the invaluable Scenes from the Battleground blog, a critique of teaching videos held out in the UK as “best practices”:

This one has to be seen to be believed (at least if you are not used to what goes on in schools), we have good practice in English. A subject that, once upon a time, you may have thought had a lot to do with reading and, dare I say it, writing. Not according to OFSTED [Office for Standards in Education]:

. . . Narrator: Underpinning the practice of speaking and listening is an emphasis on collaboration between all students.

Alys Winstanley: We do a lot of group work, a lot of collaborative work. So I think the students are keen to see each other succeed. And they can recognise good work when they see it… I think collaborative work is really important in getting that positive supportive atmosphere between students.

Teacher: We have found as a pattern that boys like to be up out of their seats. They like to have the freedom to be trusted. Learning beyond the classroom which is a Key Stage 3 term is something that we’ve really sort of taken and run with in the English Department here

Narrator: The use of flip cameras has proved to be a key tool in drawing students, especially boys, in to the process of learning.

Of course, there will be those who watch this and will be baffled as to what’s wrong with any of this. If I was an expert in English teaching I’d know that having a chat and filming themselves with flip cameras (according to one of the teachers this is “essential in all English departments”) was actually the key to effective teaching. Perhaps, when a GCSE English exam can involve analysing reality TV or an interview with Lady Gaga this sort of thing can contribute to getting qualifications. But can we at least consider the possibility that this isn’t what should be accepted as “good practice” for all schools to follow?

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