Michael Gove claimed last week that economists were in crisis as their forecasts were inaccurate. The validity of his claim lies in the relationship between unpredictability and societal change. As the pace of change increases so the accuracy of economic forecasting falls. Just because an economy behaves in a certain way at a certain time on a specific continent does not mean that a different economy will do the same even if the conditions appear similar. No single way of running an economy guarantees citizens financial well-being however that is defined. This is why economics is wedded forever to politics.
The same limitation is true of educational policy. What works in one school will not guarantee the same levels of effective learning in another. There is no magic wand out there that guarantees learning.
This is odd because teaching is a relatively straightforward activity. The unpredictability lies in the infinite complexities of learning. Teaching well in a primary school requires clarity of instruction, deep subject knowledge, precisely framed questions, presence, trusting relationships, ensuring opportunities to apply learning and the ability to assess. Whether or not you identify with a teaching approach (or people choose to label you as a particular type of teacher) the above can be done well or poorly. The label is irrelevant, the quality of your teaching depends on your judgements in combining the elements for the benefit of the children. But contexts change constantly. A lesson that leads to learning one day may be less effective on another day. That is why primary teaching is both art and craft and why we are a profession. It’s also why, even exhausted and full of cold, I love the job.