Making Kids Cleverer(9781785833663)

Provider: Crown House Publishing
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Description In 'Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap', David Didau reignites the nature vs. nurture debate around intelligence and offers research-informed guidance on how teachers can help their students acquire a robust store of knowledge and skills that is both powerful and useful.

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Categories Primary, Secondary, Higher, Leadership and Management, Teaching and Learning, Management, Support Staff, Teaching staff, In school
Learning outcomes for participants/users and, where relevant, pupils or students

In Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap, David Didau reignites the nature vs. nurture debate around intelligence and offers research-informed guidance on how teachers can help their students acquire a robust store of knowledge and skills that is both powerful and useful.

Foreword by Paul A. Kirschner.

Suitable for teachers, school leaders, policy makers and anyone involved in education.

Evidence underpinning this approach

When David started researching this book, he thought the answers to the above were obvious. But it turns out that the very idea of measuring and increasing children’s intelligence makes many people extremely uncomfortable: “If some people were more intelligent, where would that leave those of us who weren’t?”

"The Sutton Trust report Global Gaps found that while children in England do better at school than those in most other countries, “bright but poor” children – those in the top 10% for achievement but in the bottom 25% for socio-economic status – are almost three years behind the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. For girls, the situation is even worse."

Source: Kristján Kristjánsson, The Sutton Trust Report and Its Fallout: Some Curious Ideas about the Shaping of Personality as ‘Character Education’ (Birmingham: Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, 2016), p. 2 [original emphasis]. Available at: %20The%20Sutton%20Trust%20Report%20and%20Its%20Fallout.pdf

The question of whether or not we can get cleverer is a crucial one. If you believe that intelligence is hereditary and environmental effects are trivial, you may be sceptical. But environment does matter, and it matters most for children from the most socially disadvantaged backgrounds – those who not only have the most to gain, but who are also the ones most likely to gain from our efforts to make all kids cleverer. And one thing we can be fairly sure will raise children’s intelligence is sending them to school.

In this wide-ranging enquiry into psychology, sociology, philosophy and cognitive science, David argues that with greater access to culturally accumulated information – taught explicitly within a knowledge-rich curriculum – children are more likely to become cleverer, to think more critically and, subsequently, to live happier, healthier and more secure lives.

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Furthermore, by sharing valuable insights into what children truly need to learn during their formative school years, he sets out the numerous practical ways in which policy makers and school leaders can make better choices about organising schools, and how teachers can communicate the knowledge that will make the most difference to young people as effectively and efficiently as possible.

David underpins his discussion with an exploration of the evolutionary basis for learning – and also untangles the forms of practice teachers should be engaging their students in to ensure that they are acquiring expertise, not just consolidating mistakes and misconceptions.

There are so many competing suggestions as to how we should improve education that knowing how to act can seem an impossible challenge. Once you have absorbed the arguments in this book, however, David hopes you will find the simple question that he asks himself whenever he encounters new ideas and initiatives – “Will this make children cleverer?” – as useful as he does.

Follow-up activities and support

David Didau is a freelance writer, blogger, speaker, trainer and author. He started his award-winning blog, The Learning Spy, in 2011 to express the constraints and irritations of ordinary teachers, detail the successes and failures within his own classroom, and synthesise his years of teaching experience through the lens of educational research and cognitive psychology. Since then he has spoken at various national conferences, has directly influenced Ofsted and has worked with the Department for Education to consider ways in which teachers’ workload could be reduced.

David can be contacted at:


Review comments received include: Parents in Touch, Schools Week, Professor Rebecca Allen, Dylan William, David C. Geary, Lady Caroline Nash and Andy Tharby.

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