Mark McCourt is Chief Executive of La Salle Education.
A leading figure in mathematics education, Mark has led many large-scale government education initiatives, both in the UK and overseas. Mark was a Director at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and has also been a school leader, an Advanced Skills Teacher, a school inspector and a teacher trainer. He was Senior Director at Tribal Group, which saw him working with schools and governments internationally. Mark founded and was Chairman of the Teacher Development Trust. He has extensive experience of mathematics teaching and learning across all age and ability groups, having taught students from age 3 to PhD!
Written by Mark McCourt on Monday, 02 July 2012.
Drill has a place. Most certainly. But they are not the good lessons.
The good lessons are the ones that make kids struggle, where they have to dredge up long forgotten knowledge and create new ways of working, new ways of seeing a situation.
Written by Mark McCourt on Thursday, 27 October 2011.
For many years, mathematics education specialists have joined forces with software and hardware developers to create new tools for learning. But still, decades on, the mathematics classroom remains one largely about teacher exposition and bookwork practice. Technology has made little impact.
Yet, technology in mathematics can help to de-abstract-ise the subject. All those apparently meaningless processes that we have all been taught at some point in our lives can suddenly be made to come to life. Just watch a Gapminder animation or use a virtual manipulative and you will see what I mean. No longer does the mathematics teacher have to explain some new concept while drawing inadequate diagrams that contradict their words. Technology can solve this. So why hasn't it?
Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 08 October 2011.
Teachermon was a straight forward rip off of one aspect of the incredibly popular (at the time at least) game Pokemon – in which cards containing information about little creatures are used to play a battle. Sort of Top Trumps on speed. It exploded out of Japan in 1996 and suddenly the kids of the world went Pokemon crazy.
So when a boy in Year 10 approached me and asked if it would be ok to create a version of the cards based on the teachers at the school, I thought it simply genius.
Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 08 October 2011.
Many people have asked me this week what I thought to the Secretary of State's speech at the Conservative Party Conference, and maybe at some point I will get round to writing up a response.
In the meantime, I thought that some of you might find it helpful to catch up with what was said if you were unable to attend the conference, so here is a transcript of Michael's speech.
(if there are spelling errors or such like, well tough, I was typing pretty damn fast!)
Written by Mark McCourt on Wednesday, 05 October 2011.
I guess if you think back to school, or watch TV, or think about stereotypes, a lesson is when 30 children sit in a room, at desks, on chairs, in a school. A teacher imparts some information, which the children take notes of, then the children undertake some task from a book, writing their responses in another book, which they carry to and from school.
But that is not a lesson.
Written by Mark McCourt on Friday, 30 September 2011.
Before addressing that question it is important to establish some knowns.
The quality of teaching in State schools is diverse. There are amazing teachers, there are crap ones.
The quality of teaching in Public schools is diverse. There are amazing teachers, there are crap ones.
Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 20 August 2011.
I believe that there are many hidden geniuses out there (in fact, I believe everyone is a genius – just that we all have different fields of expertise). They are hidden because the education system that they are a part of does not provide opportunities for unlocking the genius.
Here are a few examples of moments that have warmed my heart over the years:
Written by Mark McCourt on Tuesday, 02 August 2011.
What strikes me this morning, listening to Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, is yet again schools are being used as the punch bag. So when ill informed, trying to get a soundbite, journalists state that 33% of children are "failing", Nick's immediate response is to talk about schools and standards of teaching and learning, blah-de-blah-de-blah.
At not one point does he mention that, actually, if your kids can't read, write and do simple arithmetic at age 11, then blaming the school is a red herring, take a long honest look at your own parenting.
Written by Mark McCourt on Monday, 01 August 2011.
It's a funny old thing, the homework malarkey. There is no reliable evidence to suggest that doing homework has any impact on students' understanding of mathematics or the standards that they achieve, yet still all over the country it is seen as a given that students must do homework. And in mathematics this often looks like students wading through question after question after meaningless question.
Written by Mark McCourt on Monday, 25 July 2011.
In 2005, speaking at a Special School in Gloucestershire, David Cameron, the then education spokesman for the Conservative party called for a halt to the number of special schools being closed. Since coming to power in 1997, the Labour government had overseen the closure of around 10 percent of all Special Schools by 2005. Every teacher knows that one of the biggest buzz words in education under New Labour was "inclusion". In relentless pursuit of this ideal, schools had more and more pressure put upon them to make provision for students with any type of special educational need. Clearly there is an ideal, a deeply held philosophical belief here. Students should not become social outcasts because they have been born with challenges such as physical or mental disabilities. It is hard to not agree. It is hard to think that anything other than full inclusion is right. But, in my opinion, what stemmed from an ideal, a dream, has turned in to something altogether different. Students who were happy, successful, social and ambitious have been thrown in to mainstream schools and been poorly provided for, bullied, marginalized and lost their self-esteem.