John Fleming’s Explicit Instruction Model advocates a dramatic shift in the way primary school children are taught, and educators across Australia are listening because his results are so impressive. In his model teachers closely direct student learning. It differs from the dominant inquiry model, where teachers guide students and encourage them to discover answers for themselves.
As head of the Haileybury College Berwick campus, John has a track record that suggests explicit teaching works. Last year, his year three students recorded results well above the state average in literacy and numeracy – two years ahead of their peers in reading and three years ahead in maths. Before John Fleming arrived at the school, the year threes were only just ahead of state benchmarks.
When he was principal of Bellfield Primary, one of Victoria’s most disadvantaged schools, students were drawn largely from single-parent families and homes where English was not the first language. More than 80% of parents did not work and many were illiterate. In 1996, 80% of Bellfield students were performing well below the state average in literacy and numeracy. By 2005, John Fleming’s school was one of the best performing in Victoria. ACER’s research director, Professor Steve Dinham suggests “The evidence is overwhelming. Direct instruction and explicit teaching is two to three times more effective than inquiry-based or problem based learning.”
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