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Direct Instruction is a model too

In my hands Direct Instruction was a multipurpose tool used to address every pedagogical situation I faced as a teacher. It was bent and refashioned to do what I wanted but it wasn’t that malleable.

Direct instruction has a poor reputation. Regardless of the language used to describe it – command style, teacher-centred, skills and drills, teaching by task – it is considered to be the poorest of relations when it comes to teaching. It is, in short, the Uncle Buck/Scrooge of pedagogical approaches.

I used to use it. I still do (but I’ll get to that later). Once it was my one and only instructional approach. My role in the class, as far as I could see, was to make all the decisions and the kids, well, if they followed my instructions then they would get better and if they didn’t – well, more the fool them. I didn’t choose to be ‘Commander Casey’– at least I don’t recall going into the pedagogy shop and picking this one off the shelf – it just kind of happened. When I started to lead small groups as a teenager in my school’s PE department I used it. When I worked unqualified for two years in the same school I used it some more. I was just following the example given to me by my teachers.

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