Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Philip Adey, 1939-2013: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Philip Adey, 1939-2013: News

Article excerpt

Improve children's thinking skills, Philip Adey said, and their retention of facts will follow naturally. And so the education professor spent his career training thousands of teachers in how to help their pupils learn.

Philip Stanworth Adey was born in May 1939. After completing a chemistry BSc and a teacher training qualification at the University of London, he was appointed head of chemistry at the Lodge School in Barbados in 1963. He stayed for seven years.

He was fascinated by how children learn: he wanted to understand what made certain topics difficult to take in. And so, gradually, he made the move from teaching into academia. He worked for three years as a consultant at the University of the West Indies, before returning to Britain in 1974 in order to complete a PhD at London's Chelsea College. He joined King's College London in 1984. Over the next 20 years he progressed through the ranks of academia, from researcher to professor.

Full of energy, he could find humour in any social situation. A man of honesty and integrity, he believed in treating everyone - student, teacher or academic - equally.

In the mid 1980s he worked with school science departments. He concluded that children's thinking was not being sufficiently challenged during lessons. Rather than being presented with a succession of facts, pupils needed to be pushed to think more effectively. Only then would they be able to make sense of abstract concepts.

Three years after this project had ended, the pupils were achieving higher results than their peers, not just in science but also in maths and English. …

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