Taught or learned?

It is hard to know whether pupils really know what they have covered in school. Have they merely been taught and are just regurgitating the information or have they learn it and can freely re-call it out of context and express and opinion on it? Some would argue that there isn’t much difference and if they know what they need to know for an exam that’s the main thing.


One of the main developments of CfE is that it encourages deeper learning. However, as teachers can we do more to create the responsible citizens and confident individuals that the curriculum aims for? Here are are a few tips to see if the information have been learned rather than just taught:


1. Based your judgements on your middle learners – this give you a good average for the class

2. Spot tests – mean and horrible – but its a more accurate reflection of learning.

3. Not all written – pupils who struggle with writing will not show case their full potential

4. Question the answers – if you can understand pupils’ logic for an answer then you can see how deep their learning is

5. Not all individual assessment

6. Games – competition can bring out the best in learners

7. Questioning – Blooms Taxonomy is not just a triangle in your CPD folder – a collection of question starters for each level is available and can show how much the pupil have learned not just remembered

8. Time – it is oft quoted that pupils are wee sponges but these wee sponges have a plethora of other subjects. It takes time for the learning to be absorbed and retained.


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