You are what you eat.

Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how on earth did you chose which one to follow? There are a huge amount of diets that you could follow. For example:

There are the crash diets (or fad diets) - The Beverley Hills diet and Cabbage soup diet are 2 examples.

Then there are the diets for medical reasons - e.g. Ketogenic diet for MS and the Gluten free diet.

And then there are the other diets - The Swank diet, the negative calories diet and the Dr Hay diet are 3 of many.

If you think about the reasons why people choose to go on a diet  - to get thinner, to feel better, medical advice, to conform to societal pressures - you get an understanding of the human desire to effect some change.

Where then does this leave us with the current debate in education regarding best practice?

I think it's important to say that we don't need any more new initiatives in education.

There are 6 possible domains of influence in education that contribute to the outcomes of pupils:
The pupil,
The teacher,
The pedagogy,
The home life of the pupil,
The school and
The curriculum.

Educational research has looked deep into these areas to see how much impact they each have on the learning process in schools. In addition to this, John Hattie's Visible Learning work has categorised 150 influencing factors and their impact on student achievement. What Hattie hasn't done is create another methodology of teaching. Instead he has looked at all the claims of the different initiatives and other influencing factors and found that some things work better than others when you look at achievement in the classroom.

Let's look again at the diet analogy.

There are some diets that work for some people, whilst there are some diets that work for others. Is there some overlap between the different diets? If there is some degree of consensus then perhaps that is the part to attribute success to. You would then look at achieving the same success whilst using only the part of dieting that is common to all of them.

Perhaps eat less, exercise more would do it. But this doesn't generally happen. It's not glitzy enough for people to subscribe to even though it works.

Back to the classroom. Surely the next best steps of the profession would be to look at the common ground of what works best according to the evidence. This can't just be anecdotal evidence but verified evidence, with proof across a range of classes.

Many school claims to be unique. Most teachers that I know claim to have a unique situation in their classroom. In my experience, what is engaging with one group tends to be engaging with another group purely because I know how to respond to the needs of the class that I work with. The end-goal (making learning an activity that all are involved in so that they can make progress over time) is the same no matter what the group and, having taught a variety of subjects, no matter what the subject. It's not glamorous or glitzy but it works.

I remember a school trip to see a performance of "Murderous maths". The pupils loved it. They all thought that the people on stage were the best teachers ever. They were engaged. They learned stuff. They wanted the lesson to last for ever. The teachers were actors. They weren't maths teachers but they were engaging. I'm not sure where that leaves us but I would be interested to know the impact of giving some level of performance coaching to teachers. Or is that a new initiative?

Education has had fad after fad after fad. This has been in addition to the new foci of various governments but it is always trying to cause a change in education that is for the benefit of the pupils. If you disagree with this then we perhaps never need trouble each other again. If we aren't doing the best possible for the pupils then education has ceased to be fit for purpose.

Are we just fad-obsessed in the UK? Or is this an international problem?