Making lessons fun does not help children to learn, new report finds

The widely held belief that pupils must be happy in order to do well at school is nothing more than a myth, according to the Centre for Education Economics. A report published by the think-tank, titled titled “The achievement–wellbeing trade-off in education”, argues that traditional teaching methods may not be particularly enjoyable for pupils but are the most effective.  The Telegraph reports.

These include direct instruction, where a teacher stands at the front of the class and presents information, drilling, where pupils repeat words or phrases after the teacher, memorisation, and memorisation.

The report says that these methods are “crucial for successful learning” because they allow pupils to transfer information from their working memory to their long-term memory. But they are “neither fun nor inspiring”, and are now considered to be old-fashioned “teacher-centred” techniques.

They have been replaced by “child-centred” learning, which became popular in the 1960s and 70s, and focuses on pupils’ enjoyment and wellbeing.

The emphasis is on keeping students engaged and interested by allowing them to learn from each other rather than exclusively taking instruction from the teacher.

Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren, the author of the report, said the idea that pupil wellbeing and achievement go hand in hand has become “deeply entrenched” in schools.

“These progressive ideals regarding pupil enjoyment are an important reason why modern educationalists historically have supported pupil-centred teaching methods,” he said.

“Indeed, it is still commonly believed that it is necessary to make learning ‘invigorating’ for learning to take place at all.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted, has previously spoken of his opposition to “child-centred” teaching, claiming that it has damaged generations of schoolchildren.

Read more Making lessons fun does not help children to learn, new report finds

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