Where's the evidence?

I listened to a great podcast. The interviewer was asking a known expert about their work: How did you get started? How do you improve? Describe how you go about developing your product? etc.

The gentleman, let's call him Stephen, was heavily into the science of his craft. He explained how his methodology was different to some other people. He also spoke about the small number of "naturals" who work in his field.

What really surprised me was when the interviewer, let's call him Stuart, mentioned that Stephen used evidence-based methods to improve his ability. Stephen also mentioned that if he could give his young self some advice it would be to interact with other professionals more in the early years. To discuss what works and what doesn't is the most obvious way to approach learning about any methodology.

Now I know what you're all thinking: A growth mindset, awareness of himself and others, evidence-based methods and being prepared to discuss and collaborate with other professionals. You think I'm talking about myself (or maybe yourself!) You'd certainly be aware that these are the things that teachers - the best teachers - are talking about. However the podcast was hosted by Stuart Goldsmith (@comcompod ) and featured Stephen Grant (@stephencgrant ) For those of you not in the know, Stephen and Stuart are both professional comedians. Stuart discusses the serious business of being funny with a host of comedians. This type of reflective practice is the reserve of the highest thinking practitioners in medicine, research and development and engineering. It isn't yet common place in teaching.

As a Visible Learning Consultant in the UK I know the importance of looking beyond the exam results when it comes to improving the achievement of pupils in our schools. I would honestly recommend listening to the podcast with Stephen Grant (available on iTunes). If you're reading this as a teacher, see just how much the interview resonates with your own practice. The development of a gig = the planning of lessons. How often do we complain that lesson planning sometimes takes longer than the delivery of the lesson? Imagine spending hours on a 1 minute gag?

Should we construct lessons from the expected success criteria (the punch line) or from the beginning (What's funny about Mistletoe?)

Would collaborative working with other teachers make the planning process much better? Would someone else's lesson plan work better for you than it did for them? Do we have an ear for teaching the way that the best comedians have an ear for comedy?

Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I try to blend a serious job (like education) with humour. Laughter is the shock-absorber of life. Teaching is also, in my opinion, a performance art. I wonder if our best teachers are also the best performers? If so, should teacher training contain some element of acting tuition?

Lets hope that we have an educational equivalent to the Fringe in years to come!