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Archive for October, 2016

The Sociological Detectives: DEA

Monday, October 31st, 2016

In splashthis sim students take the role of “sociological detectives” investigating the reasons for differential educational achievement. Broadly, the sim involves:

  • identifying a range of theories that can be used to explain differential educational achievement across and within categories of class, gender and ethnicity.
  • identifying and collecting evidence that can be used to test (support or refute) the various theories examined.

The accompanying PowerPoint is designed to help you develop this structure and while it’s not essential it can help to both set and explain the scene by introducing the idea of suspects, theory development and evidence gathering at the core of the sim.

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More Sociology Stuff: History of Education

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

These short files provide brief coverage of the main signposts in the history of English education, from the first Education Act in 1870 to the major curriculum reforms introduced by the Thatcher Conservative government in 1988 (the Act came into force in 1990).

As you might expect, the rapid – and I do mean fast – educational changes that have taken place since 1988 have made some of this Stuff outdated in the sense of having been discarded or replaced by more-recent changes, and if you use it you’ll need to point-out to students Stuff that’s no-longer current; it is, however, generally useful as an important part of our understanding of the historical development of the education system in our society.

1870 Foster Education Act

1944 Butler Education Act

1965 Comprehensivisation

1988 Education Reform Act

Sociology Stuff: DEA

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Istufff you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll tell you a story.

A long, long, time ago, when the Internet was still young, there existed a web site, created by Mark Peace, called Sociology Stuff. This web site specialised in producing high quality sociology stuff (hence the name. Probably. I’m guessing) for a few years before Mark got bored or went off to do a PhD or something and the site just disappeared, along with all the stuff it contained. Which was a shame.

Luckily, someone who shall be nameless (but we’ll call “Chris” because that’s actually his name) saved a lot of this stuff onto one of his many hard drives and forgot about it. Either because he was Very, Very, Busy (the official version). Or because he was just a little bit jealous and wanted to keep all the Stuff for himself (the version I’m leaning toward).

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The Marketisation of Education: Branding

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

The development of Academy schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to oversee the management of such schools has been a well-documented dimension of the marketisation of education in England and Wales over the past 20 years. As such, when writing about the New Right and / or marketisation in an exam this is an obvious example to note.

What may be less obvious, however, is an idea noted by Warwick Mansell (Is reputation a touchy subject for chain?) when he suggests branding – how “the public” perceive a particular chain of schools and the impact this might have on student recruitment – has become a significant factor in relation to the management of some schools.

“An academy chain considered declining to take over a struggling school because of the potential risk to its “brand”, a document released under freedom of information reveals.

The minutes of a meeting in February of the E-ACT trust’s audit and risk committee show senior staff and trustees worrying that the unnamed Bristol school’s “poor exam results could trigger an Ofsted inspection”, which would lead to a “requires improvement” judgment after the takeover “resulting in damage to E-ACT brand”.

In the end, E-ACT did take on a Bristol primary it now names Hareclive academy, approved by the DfE. It says the discussion about its brand was all part of its “due diligence” and it was pleased to have received the department’s vote of confidence. 

But the concentration on “brand” may be seen by some as another manifestation of increasing commercialisation in schools. And some might wonder why E-ACT was allowed to expand after Ofsted warned, just weeks before the meeting that it was providing too many of its pupils with a “not good enough” education. The chain lost control of 10 schools in 2014 after an earlier Ofsted report, so its reputation may be a touchy subject.”

More Ideas for Structuring Extended Answers

Monday, October 17th, 2016

As I noted in a previous post on mnemonics that can be used to help students structure paragraphs for extended answer questions, these are many and varied. Although they all perform much the same sort of function – that of helping students remember to include information in their answers that cover all the required Assessment Objectives (from knowledge and understanding, through interpretation and analysis to the all-important evaluation – it’s probably a question of finding one that you and your students find useful.

To this end I decided to pick the brains of a random selection of teachers on FaceBook about the mnemonics they use with their students and thought it might be helpful to present the various mnemonics they use for you to explore…

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Postmodernism and New Media

Friday, October 14th, 2016

This set of Notes was originally part of a textbook chapter looking at the impact on audiences of different types of old and new media, something I mention by way of explanation for both the general focus and lack of depth in the Notes. pomo_media

Without wishing to bore you with the intimate details of dealing with publishers and exam boards, there’s always a certain tension between the amount of depth and detail demanded by the latter and the number of print pages a publisher is willing to support – and while each has their reasons it’s akin, for an author, to steering an unhappy course between Cilia and Charybdis.

The point of this little preamble is that textbook chapters are always a compromise between cramming in as much information as possible about a topic and the level of detail with which that topic can be treated. In other words, while these Notes mention quite a few ideas none are developed in any great depth.

What they should give you, however, is a series of signposts to some of the most significant ideas in this area that, should you see the need, can be pursued and developed with additional Notes of your own. In this respect the Notes cover things like:

  • social identities and social spaces
  • a post-effects approach
  • perverse spectators: immanent and activated meanings.
  • audience as media
  • positive effects of new media
  • negative effects of new media

Download Postmodernism and New Media pdf

 

Study Strategies: The Appliance of Science

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

It’s probably fair to say students and teachers are constantly bombarded with study advice – what to do, what not to do, why you shouldn’t do what someone else has told you is absolutely essential – and it’s equally fair to say that not all of his advice is necessarily impartial or, not to put too fine a point on things, useful.

The Learning Scientists’ approach has the dual virtue of offering advice that’s free (which is nice) and backed-up by scientific evidence (the clue is in the name. Probably). Something that should be essential in this particular area but which is so often is treated as optional.

So far they’ve released 6 short (1½ – 3 minutes) videos focused on helping students develop coherent study strategies through the application of techniques that have more than just a nodding acquaintance with logic and research.

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Simulacra and Hyperreality

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

sim_coverI’ve called this a “Lesson Outline” (rather than Plan) because it’s designed to introduce and to some extent explain the related concepts of simulacra and hyperreality using practical examples to illustrate the processes.

What the Outline does is treat the related concepts of simulacra and hyperreality in more-depth than in usually the case with most Sociology A-Level textbooks; this isn’t a criticism of such books, rather an observation that there’s rarely enough space available to treat the concepts with the depth I think they deserve. In this respect the Outline details 1sr, 2nd and 3rd order simulacra and, in relation to the latter, hyperreality.

Whether or not you chose to go with the practical stuff is really up to you – it’s indicative rather than prescriptive – and there are no fancy timings or whatever to guide you through your use of the materials.

I have included a short (3 minute) video resource (https://youtu.be/ilps5xefBp8) you can use alongside the printed resource – again, nothing too fancy or prescriptive, just 6 short (around 30 seconds) clips you can integrate into your lesson if you so choose.

Download Lesson Outline (pdf)

IDEAS for Structuring Extended Answers

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Although there are a number of mnemonics around that help students structure extended answers in ways that allow them to cover and gain marks for each Assessment Objective (AO1, AO2 and AO3), I particularly like this mnemonic because it’s easy to remember and follows a logical structure for the construction of each paragraph in an extended answer.

I don’t know if this is something I dreamt up (probably not, but you never know) or whether it’s something I came across on my web travels, forgot about, rediscovered on my hard drive and convinced myself I thought it up (I’m leaning towards this interpretation but it would be nice to think it was the former).

Either way, you may find IDEAS helpful.

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Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Association for the Teaching of Psychology review of our new film by Punam Farmah

So you think you know Milgram and his experiments, inside and out? Well, the chances are this film will get you thinking again.

Written by Steve Taylor and presented by Clare Parsons, this twenty-minute film is based around the original, re-interpretation of Milgram’s findings according to social psychology professors Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher. There is always a debate as to how dated much of the research on the specifications is, and how it can remain relevant to those studying. Milgram’s research has celebrated many anniversaries, and even now the hard hitting results cause questions and a pursuit of answers as to why we, as humans do some of the things we do. This film goes some way towards answering that with a contained unit of learning that will support and reinforce material that is delivered to students by making the study relevant and pertinent. Helpfully, the film is broken up into 3 parts which can be watched and discussed all together or shown over a number of lessons.

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Beyond Genetics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Association for the Teaching of Psychology review of our new film by Deb Gajic (Head of Psychology, The Polesworth School)

How epigenetics is changing our understanding of the Nature / Nurture debate

For those of you that attended Dr. Taylor’s workshop or Dr. Guy Sutton’s keynote lecture during the ATP Annual Conference at the University of Sussex, the topic of epigenetics will be very familiar to you. This 23 minute film summarises the main points and arguments in a very concise and accessible manner for your students. It will be invaluable when teaching the nature/nurture debate or biological psychology in general. We’ve long known that behaviour is a product of nature and nurture. Now epigenetics explains how this happens – the nurture in our nature. Being able to write about epigenetics will certainly give your student’s evaluation the edge.

With expert input from Dr. Nessa Carey, author of ‘The Epigenetic Revolution’ and our own Dr. Guy Sutton, the DVD begins with a basic review of genetic processes and discusses the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project has given us more questions than answers, we now realise that the genetic code of an individual is only the starting point, it does not define life.

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Postmodernity and Sociological Theory

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

This is the second of a two-part series looking at the relationship between modernitypostmod_cover, postmodernity and the development of sociological theory and in this set of Teaching Notes the focus is on two main areas:

1 Identifying the basic economic, political and cultural characteristics of postmodernity.

2, Outlining a range of sociological theories we can loosely associate with postmodernity.

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7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 7: Cards, Cakes and Class

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

sim_cakesThe final offering in what no-one’s calling “The Wonderful Week of Sims” is designed to give students practical experience of social inequality based on the unequal distribution of economic resources (wealth) – the eponymous “cake” of the title. While this can be an end in itself – a central part of the sim is the physical segregation of students within the same classroom – it can also be the building block for an examination of the possible consequences of such inequality.

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7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 6: For My Next Trick…

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

sim_trickThis sim involves a bit of very gentle trickery on your part as you use your little-known ability to mind-read as a way of enlivening some of the “possibly less interesting?” aspects of research methods.

As with some of the other sims in the series this is a building-block resource; while it’s not very useful, in itself, for teaching, it’s possible to integrate it into curriculum content in a number of innovative and, I hope, interesting ways.  

The specific instructions for this version of the sim relate to research methods generally and research design specifically. The background reading that’s included, at no extra cost, relates to Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive Model of science and you can build the sim around a range of general and / or specific research method issues (replication, variables, hypothesis construction and testing etc.) depending on your own particular needs and preferences. For more advanced levels the sim can be used to illustrate the difference between Positivist and Realist approaches to understanding social phenomena and action. (more…)

Seven Sims in Seven Days – Day 5: Trial by Jury

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

sim_trailAs with some of the others in this series, “Trial by Jury” is a building block sim that gives you a basic template that can be used to organise and run a wide range of possible simulations. In basic terms if there’s an area of the Sociology / Psychology course that involves comparing and contrasting two opposing viewpoints it can be adapted to the Trial by Jury format using this template.

As a way of exampling this the package uses the (sociological) example of “Positivism On Trial” (effectively a debate between Positivism / Interpretivism at As-level).

This is quite a time-consuming simulation and it’s probably best-suited to occasional use (unless you’ve completely flipped your classroom, in which case it’s something you could frequently use).

For example, it could be used at the end of a specific teaching session (such as “secularisation”) as a way of bringing all the different arguments and evaluations together. Alternatively you might find it useful for a series of “end of course” sessions as a way of structuring student revision.