Dispositional teaching in schools, colleges and beyond.
A number of publications developed the theoretical approach to dispositional teaching. Guy Claxton’s book chapter Cultivating Positive Learning Dispositions offered a perspective that integrated cognitive, neuroscientific and sociocultural approaches to ‘learning to learn’, and generated a framework that enabled different practical approaches to ‘learning to learn’ to be contrasted. Lucas and Claxton’s New Kinds of Smart offered an innovative overview of the science behind ‘expandable intelligence’, and proposed a new model for describing a wide range of different learning settings in terms of the learnable dispositions they required. The Learning Powered School presented to a practitioner audience the findings of an evaluation of 18 schools which had been successful at embedding CRL’s approach to dispositional teaching via Building Learning Power at the whole-school level, drawing out lessons for leadership teams about the effective implementation of this kind of culture change.
Vocational / practical education.
CRL also developed its approach to dispositional teaching in the specific context of vocational education. Two reports, Bodies of Knowledge and Mind the Gap commissioned by the Edge Foundation mapped national/international approaches to vocational pedagogy, and the implications of new understandings of ‘embodied cognition’ for the design of vocational education.
The latter led to a journal article that distilled in greater detail the implications for education of aspects of embodied cognition, and also to a funded study of dispositional teaching in secondary school Design Technology lessons. CRL found that even small shifts in pedagogy could have a significant impact on the development of dispositions like resilience and reflection.
Building on this, a report commissioned by City & Guilds developed a theoretical foundation for a distinctively dispositional vocational pedagogy. CRL argued that vocational pedagogy should aim at the development of dispositions such as ‘craftsmanship’, as well as technical skill and knowledge, and that this had deep implications for the way that vocational education was constructed.
The third strand to CRL’s work on dispositional teaching developed a view of creativity arising from an orchestrated set of dispositions. In a book co-written with Howard Gardner, Anna Craft and others, Guy Claxton argued that both wisdom and creativity are composites of a variety of habits of mind, each of which can be cultivated. These putative dispositions included curiosity, determination, imagination, collaboration and discipline.
A commission from Creativity, Culture and Education and OECD invited CRL to carry out an extensive review of the research behind such a view, and also to design and trial a tool that teachers could use to assess the effectiveness of their attempts to cultivate these dispositions.
After several iterations, CRL developed a graphical tool that proved reliable and useful. CRL also created a more sophisticated version of the repertoire of dispositions (dividing each into constituent ‘sub-habits’), and to conceptualise more clearly three different strands of ‘development’ which were called ‘strengthening’, ‘broadening’ and ‘enriching’.