#071 David Didau: Making kids cleverer

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, I spoke to David Didau.

David is a former English teacher, who now works as an educational consultant. He is the creator of the incredibly popular Learning Spy blog, which was hugely influential for me when I was working on How I Wish I’d Taught Maths. David is also the author of not one, but two of my all-time favourite education books: What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong? and What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Psychology, which he co-wrote with former podcast guest Nick Rose. David now has a new book out – Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap – and it is a little on the controversial side!

So, in a wide-ranging conversation, David and I covered the following things, and plenty more besides:

  • As an English teacher, what was David’s view on Numeracy and Literacy across the Curriculum in schools – and if you have got young children listening, you might want to tell them to cover their ears
  • To what extent should teachers of other subjects accept responsibility for literacy, especially us maths teachers?
  • Was David worried about writing this book, given the controversial subject matter and his recent experience confronting some of the issues surrounding the heritability of intelligence on social media?
  • Which components of intelligence are fixed, and which can be changed?
  • What is the difference between intelligence and IQ?
  • What role does the way we are raised affect our IQ?
  • What is the effect of peer groups on IQ, and what are the implications for schools?
  • What is powerful knowledge?
  • What approaches to education does David think actually widen the advantage gap?
  • What is the role of deliberate practice?
  • What does David think about Cognitive Load Theory?
  • How about struggle and failure, especially when considering the implication of former podcast guests Robert and Elizabeth Bjork’s work on desirable difficulties?
  • David then reflects upon a significant piece of research, before recommending a wonderful set of Big 3s for us to check out.

I loved this conversation. I found the subject matter of David’s book fascinating, and I was so lucky to be able to dig into it further with David. As you will hear – and despite my best efforts to prepare – I was a little out of my depths at times. No change there, I hear you say. I am still trying to get my head around the effect of parenting and upbringing on IQ, but David remained patient throughout! And I am more determined than ever to invite some thick guests on the show so I can actually come across reasonably well informed for once.

As ever, I will reflect on some of the key things I have learned and pondered since our conversation in my Takeaway at the end of the show.

Just before we crack on, if you are interested in spreading the word about your product, service or event to 1000s of intelligent, engaged, and quite simply incredible listeners, then I am now offering the opportunity to sponsor episodes of this podcast. Just drop me an email at [email protected] to find out about the packages available.

David Didau’s Big 3:
1. Greg Ashman’s blog
2. 3 star learning experiences – Paul Kirschner
3. Slate Star Codex

On Twitter David is @DavidDidau
David’s blog is: learningspy.co.uk

David’s books include:
Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap
What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong? 
What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Psychology

David has also written a summary of the key points in each chapter of his new book, which you can find here

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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