Direct Instruction

This seemed to be the underlying motive of a training session for a new Key Stage 3 mastery programme I was forced to attend recently. The session bore many similarities to previous training I had received for a telesales job; we were told, with no hint of a joke, that we would all be required to read from a script and that these scripts would form the entire content of two hour-long lessons per week.

This is Direct Instruction (DI) teaching – the explicit teaching of a skill-set using lectures or scripted instructions. On the plus side, DI has been widely touted as one of the most effective teaching methods. On the other hand, and especially when used on its own, it stifles the teacher’s creativity and can limit the development of their subject knowledge, as the teacher relies too heavily on the script to do the thinking for them. It also goes completely against the enquiry-based learning or cooperative learning strategies I learned during my teacher training.

Most importantly, it does not factor in the real-world applications of subject skills beyond assessments, or allow for the development of a student’s own creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication or leadership skills. There are no frills or joie de vivre, as the French would say, and – as far as I could see – no need for a teacher’s personality.

Even the training video we watched seemed bland by comparison. Bearing a strong hint of David Brent, the teacher – script in hand – demonstrated how to read a script aloud to a “real” class of just seven compliant students. As we were prompted into applauding a fellow English teacher’s ability to read word-for-word from a script, I found myself looking over my shoulder for any hidden cameras, or for any signs of Ant and Dec lurking in the shadows, giggling like a pair of schoolgirls at the hilarity of such an obvious prank.


The Secret Teacher: Multi- academy trusts want machines not mentors, The Gardian, 12/8/17


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