Teacher Enthusiasm and Reading

This is something I am super-interested in.

Yesterday, I watched this video, a presentation in February to the Leonardo at 500: Boosting Creativity in Education by Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills for the OECD:

How can we foster creativity in school?

The overall presentation concerns creativity in schools. Schleicher provides a great deal of data to argue that developing creativity and collaboration in young people is vital in order to prepare them for the ever-automised future we face.

Two aspects of his talk really interested me. He uses the PISA 2018 data to show that countries which emphasised collaborative approaches to learning showed better reading performance by children. The UK, which is identified as a country where competitive approaches dominate scores low comparatively.

He also presents data to show that teacher enthusiasm has a significant effect on children’s reading. He shows this table:

Enthusiastic teachers create better readers.

Indeed, the third volume of the PISA report, What School Life Means for Students’ Lives, has a great deal to say about the impact that enthusiastic teachers have on children:

PISA findings reveal that, in a clear majority of countries and economies, the more enthusiastic 15-year-old students perceived their teachers to be, the higher they scored in the reading assessment, even after accounting for the socio-economic profile of students and schools (measured by the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status) (Figure III.5.2 and Table III.B1.5.5).

This volume of the report – which is over 200 pages long – is actually pretty interesting in examining the impact of teaching on children. Section 5, Teacher Enthusiasm. It argues that passionate, enthusiastic teachers have a direct impact in achieving higher scores in PISA reading tests. There’s no evidences that overly-enthusiastic teachers have a detrimental effect (which has been suggested by earlier evidence). Children do better in classes where the teacher enjoys (or appears to enjoy) the topic. Classes where teachers did not allow disruption seem to be classes where children perceived their teacher to be more enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm is identified as relating to motivation:

In every school system, teacher enthusiasm was positively related to students’ motivation to master tasks

The report has a fantastic reference section with a number of research articles on teacher enthusiasm I’m going to work my way through. I do believe that – especially for a secondary English teacher – enthusiasm lies at the heart of successful lessons and learning.