The New Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano

Over more than the past decade Marzano has been a leader in international thinking about school education, and ‘how best to teach’ (“instructional strategies” – see below), for want of a better phrase. His recent publication, stated in the title above, is the latest since his early work in 1988 Dimensions of Thinking. In his “Introduction” in 2017, he states, “I note that no single instructional strategy can guarantee student learning for a number of reasons. One is that many factors other than the use of instructional strategies affect student learning. Another is that instructional strategies work in concert or sets and should not be thought of as independent interventions. Still another is that educators have to use strategies in specific ways to produce positive results.” In other words, learning, and teaching, are complex. They rely on the relationship of learning trust that a student has developed with an expert Teacher. That learning trust is based on a student’s experience with a Teacher, that, ‘This is good for me, and I like it.’ Whatever the topic, we love to learn, and we know and feel that it’s good. Marzano continues, “…instructional strategies are best likened to techniques an artist might develop and refine over years of practice. The artist then uses these to create works that are not only unique and complex but elegantly focused. The more skill the classroom Teacher has with the instructional strategies that research and theory have uncovered…the better the Teacher will be able to create lessons that optimise student learning.” I do like the concept that a highly successful Teacher who encourages and engages the children in learning, is a creative, skilled artist with a palette of communications skills, emotional intelligence, and intricate knowledge gained from their own experiences and learning. “Experience is valuable but it also creates bias,” provides a complex counter-concept that enthusiastic, joyous Teachers can also bring life to dusty learning, at least for some. There are many ways, as Marzano states, to produce positive results. This is why our singularly unique Teachers are so important for the progression of every unique personality in CCPS students. There is no one size fits all, in how we like to learn.

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