04 August 2008

On essential reading

The link is to the Learning and Skills Network site where you can download Frank Coffield's excellent new polemical pamphlet; Coffield F (2008) Just suppose teaching and learning became the first priority London; Learning and Skills Network.

It's free, it's only 75 pages, it is well argued and meticulously referenced and even sometimes very funny. There is no excuse not to read it. Moreover, it is addressed principally to college management teams, so there is no excuse for them not to read it, either.

Post-compulsory education is stricken with the ideological hegemony of a crude instrumentalist approach to training and skills. All that means is that much of its practice goes unquestioned, and indeed that people are so immersed in current practices and assumptions that to question them would seem silly, rather like asking whether good health is a good thing.

Coffield above all shows that such questioning is very far from silly; as such this pamphlet could become the curriculum spine of a whole DTLLS course, and as such it would make much more sense than the dog's breakfast LLUK has produced.

He is well-known for co-authoring a report on Learning Styles in 2004. He notes that despite that report, even in 2006 support materials published by LSN (the same body which publishes this pamphlet);

...still blithely maintain[s] in the face of the evidence we presented that 'this does not mean that it is no longer relevant to consider learning styles' (Jones, 2007:).

How more explicit could we have been? Let me try harder this time. There is no scientific justification for teaching or learning strategies based on VAKT and tutors should stop using learning style instruments based on them. There is no theory of VAKT from which to draw any implications for practice. It should be a dead parrot. It should have ceased to function.

(Coffield 2008: 32. Emphases in original.)
However, if you really must use a learning styles questionnaire, he has devised a new one on page 65; Coffield's Learning or Teaching Styles questionnaire (CLOTS)


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