Christodoulou seeks to address some myths

Focus should be on  what happens in the classroom


Daisy Christodoulou,joined the Curriculum Centre, which is part of the ‘Futures Academies’ group (Pimlico Academy etc) as its first Managing Director in August 2012 and was quickly promoted to the role of CEO.

She studied English Literature at Warwick University and trained as an English teacher on the Teach First programme in 2007.  In 2010 she edited a Policy First publication on the importance of ethos and culture in schools.  In 2011-12 Daisy worked at Pimlico Academy on a pioneering knowledge-based curriculum.  Daisy’s book Seven Education Myths: Knowledge and skills in the English Curriculum, was published this month.

Daisy is  the Curriculum Centres  English Language, English Literature, History and Geography lead.

She has spent her twenties teaching in challenging  inner-city comprehensive schools, and much of what she writes in this book is informed by what she experienced in these schools.  Her book is essential reading for anyone in education who wants to fully understand some of the thinking behind the curriculum reforms.She identifies seven myths but there are rather more out there that need to be challenged, a point that Daisy accepts. Daisy is also interested in  the advances in  neuro science and how much more we now understand about how the brain works, and how this might help inform teaching practice in future.

Much of the heated disagreement in education has been over structures. As the introduction points out, ‘both left and right prefer structural solutions to education problems’.  In a certain sense structural reforms are the easy bit (which is why politicians are so keen on them). This book shines the spotlight on what matters most: what actually gets taught in classrooms, and how it gets taught.

Here is an extract from her book about the disconnect between robust evidence and teaching practice  :

‘ After I’d been teaching for three years, I took a year out to do further study. I was shocked to stumble across an entire field of educational and scientific research which completely disproved so many of the theories I’d been taught when training and teaching. I wasn’t just shocked; I was angry. I felt as though I’d been led up the garden path. I had been working furiously for three years, teaching hundreds of lessons, and a whole lot of information which would have made my life a whole lot easier and would have helped my pupils immeasurably had just never been introduced to me. Worse, ideas which had absolutely no evidence backing them up had been presented to me as unquestionable axioms… My central argument is that much of what teachers are taught about education is wrong, and that they are encouraged to teach in ineffective ways’.

Daisy draws from her own experience of the ways in which potentially effective teachers have been made ineffective because they follow too closely the theories they have been taught in  their teacher training . Some of this training peddles not only the wrong ideas about skills and knowledge, but has also served to deprive these potentially good teachers of the knowledge they need to be effective teachers of subject matter. Teachers who are only moderately talented  as teachers can be highly effective if they follow basic  teaching principles and a sound curriculum within a school environment where knowledge builds cumulatively from year to year. Knowledge begets more  knowledge and has a multiplier effect. The ideas of ED Hirsch are much in evidence here . Daisy supports the Core Knowledge approach advocated by Hirsch (Hirsch,  by the way, admires this book and Daisys approach )

Seven Myths in brief

1. Facts prevent understanding

Myth: Facts are inert

Reality: Facts are foundations

2. Teacher-led instruction is passive

Myth: Directed instruction is counterproductive

Reality: Directed instruction is effective

3. The 21st century fundamentally changes everything

Myth: The future economy makes learning facts pointless

Reality: In a knowledge economy, knowledge is a prerequisite for innovation

4. You can just look it up

Myth: The Internet makes memory obsolete

Reality: Long-term memory is crucial for thinking well

5. We should teach transferable skills

Myth: Most skills transfer easily across subject content

Reality: Few skills transfer easily across subjects

6. Projects and activities are the best way to learn

Myth: Physical activity always enhances thinking and remembering

Reality: Physical activity often crowds out thought and memory

7. Knowledge is not indoctrination

Myth: Prescribing knowledge is a right wing ideology

Reality: Sequencing knowledge is crucial for critical thinking skills

Seven Myths in Education is out on Tuesday 18th June on Amazon Kindle, and available via the free Kindle app on iPhones, ipads, Macs, PCs and android smartphones.



  1. This is all so naive. Each one of these propositions (both myth and reality) could be argued with some conviction either way. Indeed they are the kind of thing one might use as a debating tool early on in teacher training…… around that stage of thinking perhaps……

    So where has Daisy been all these years, not to have tuned into some of these debates……and at least tried to weigh the evidence on both sides….?

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