Twice-told tales

April 6, 2017

Perhaps the most depressing thing about education research is the total absence of historical memory and the continual reinvention of the wheel.

A librarian calls for the banning of reading lists (“Ban reading lists to drive teaching innovation, librarian says”, News, 23 March), but these lists were often demanded by librarians in the first place while academics protested that they undermined research skills; two academics “experiment” with “seen exams” and discover, as academics did in the 1980s, that they produce high-quality, engaged results (“Unseen benefits”, Opinion, 23 March); and the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovers (“‘If we don’t know how we learn, how on earth do we know how to teach?’”, Features, 23 March) that the model of studying independently, then discussing and applying, which was used by naval academies from the 18th century onwards, is a highly successful way of encouraging students to be actively engaged.

Farah Mendlesohn
Staffordshire University

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