researchEDHome 2020 Jon Hutchinson: Seven Distinctions Every Subject Leader Should Know About (Notes)

researchEDHome 2020 Jon Hutchinson: Seven Distinctions Every Subject Leader Should Know About (Notes)

As part of my lock down, I’m determined to improve my knowledge when I get back to leading my department and teaching in-front of students (instead of behind a screen as I am doing now). One of things I’m trying to do is read more books and do more research. The reseach-ed session on YouTube have been excellent for that. These are my notes from Jon Hutchinsons session on Seven Distinctions Every Subject Leader Should Know About.

Working Memory/Long Term Memory

Information from Daniel Willingham

Environment is part of the the content
Student attention is limited.
Working memory – easily overloaded.
Long term memory – encodes thoughts for storage.

“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
Oliver Caviglioli

Key things:

  • Reduce cognitive overload
  • Don’t overload attention, don’t split attention.
  • Step through a process
  • (How do you weigh this with the current curriculum? students not having suitable foundational knowledge)
  • (How do you ensure student engagement is up so learning can take place?)


How often do you consider ‘cognitive overload” when planning lessons and designing materials? (How much information, how many pieces of info?)

Which topics cover a “High instrinsic load?” (high element interactivity – more moving parts and more abstract parts) Computational thinking etc

How are these broken down into manageable chunks through instruction?

What does a ‘well organised schema’ look like in this subject?

Substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge

Information from Christine Counsell

Substantive Knowledge is established fact (found in exam specifications and the KS3 Programme of Study) It is WHAT to learn.

Disciplinary knowledge is how that knowledge was established, degree of certainty etc How did we get there? Methods used to learn this.
Computational Thinking skills? HOW we learn that.

We link these together with questions, concepts, themes and procedures.

Knowledge organisers are used to reduce the need for short term memory to hold established fact. For this we need to go to the source, the curated knowledge, and identify CLEARLY what you need to know.

Explicit Instruction vs Discovery Learning

Novices and experts learn differently – novices need explicit and direct instruction. Experts can explore to learn.

Text curates the key knowledge > broken into small chunks > short tasks to focus attention.

“memory is the residue of thought”

Guidance and instruction fades as retrieval improves (remove the scaffolding).

Performance vs Learning

Repetition > Spacing > Interleaving

Performance is what we see, learning is what we infer.

Performance is not a proxy for learning.

Abstract concepts need to be repeated with concrete examples.

Core vs Hinterland

Information from Christine Counsell

Core is the residue, the things that stay.
Hinterland is the background or scenario.
Balance is key.

Flexible vs Inflexible knowledge

Information from Dan Willingham

Memorising facts is inflexible knowledge.
Flexible is problem solving, critical and creativity.

Retrieval practice – multiple choice questions.

Give inflexible knowledge first THEN develop into flexible.

Move from the concrete to the abstract.

Diversive curiosity vs Epistemic curiosity

Information from Ian Leslie

Diversive Curiosity – instant fleeting curiosity
Epistemic Curiosity – thoughtful lasting engagement

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