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Thumbs up for hands up

I read with dismay that Andy Buck, head of Jo Richardson comprehensive in Dagenham, has stopped pupils putting their hands up to answer questions in class because it leads to feelings of victimisation and does more harm than good (TES, January 27).

Having children put their hands up has, for me, been a sophisticated teaching tool as I have used their responses to help identify gaps in understanding and decide on any change of direction in my teaching.

I have also used this strategy as a tool to develop a climate of co-operation in the classroom by encouraging those who do not know to risk an educated guess and those who do know to develop patience.

I have been able to demonstrate to the class that, whatever their contribution, it can be used as a way forward: incorrect responses are useful in setting a focus on the learning objectives.

Are teachers of today really no longer able to relate to children so that they can identify and then address their learning needs? Or is it that the emphasis in schools is shifting from the pure values of knowledge and learning to the cloudy, emotive issues of self-perception and ego?

Michael G A Parry Endways Redisham, Suffolk

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