Who are Learning Objectives for?



After over 20 years of teaching, I have come to the some conclusions about objectives. There will be little or no proof, just experience and gut instinct.

I think it is a good idea for students to know which lesson they are in! I’m not a fan of cross curricular projects etc, so the student needs to have an awareness that he or she is sitting in say a maths lesson. Within each lesson it may be a good thing if there is some kind of title eg solving simultaneous equations, or just simultaneous equations (why proceed with a verb?). But there may be no need to even have a title, if there are a mixture of topics going on. Remember the student knows that for this hour they are going to learn some more maths.

The above may seem simplistic even facetious. But I’m not joking! This whole thing has got out of hand to the extent that if the objective isn’t displayed for the whole lesson the teacher risks a serious rebuke from management. Although I tell my students to note the title in their books, I don’t think there would be any loss if a student didn’t. Far better for them to be ‘doing maths’ for as much time as possible.

In a previous school the regime of ‘consistency’ was such that all objectives had to start “I can …” but you weren’t allowed to make it “I can understand [topic]” as this was considered lazy. Many verbs were allowed but not ‘to understand’. Occasionally I would get fed up of the lies, and write “I can’t add fractions” to see if anybody noticed. The students that did, appreciated my humour. The worst thing I saw at this school was when the science department, or at least one favoured teacher, showed an example of good practice: To get an A, blah blah blah; to get a C, blah, blah; to get an E, blah. Well sorry but my subject doesn’t work like that and I imagine that it would be difficult to keep this up even in science throughout the whole syllabus. But it looked good, and ACE sounds good, I don’t think the management got as far as saying ‘make sure you ACE all your objectives and RAG your outcomes”. They missed a trick there.

I honestly don’t know what is wrong with me teaching some more maths, and them learning some more maths. Full stop. That is not to say the teacher shouldn’t have a clear plan over time and specifically for that lesson, but do we really need to declare it in advance?

For a much better article read: http://www.learningspy.co.uk/learning/8696/