Archive for March, 2014

March 2, 2014

Hattie, Strawman Fallacy and Gurus in Education

“He was impregnably armored by his good intentions and his ignorance.” (Graham Greene)

Nothing is more annoying, and in certain cases more dangerous, than a pseudo-intellectual. You know, one that skims a brief article here, reads a little bit there, and then makes a “compelling” case against something. Worse is, however, when his or her blog post gets re-tweeted over and over again so that it becomes a mantra in education.

To me, this ultimately boils down to ethics. I understand your desire to change the status quo or to advance a certain view (value, belief, theory, or whatever you have in mind), and for sure this revolutionary intent and constant war against the current state of things is part of what we call “passion”. What I do not understand is the misuse of information in order to promote this change.

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This week I came across this blog post (Three Shockers from the Guardian) in which its author criticizes three articles – one related to collaborative learning, the second to problem-solving, and last to Hirsch’s developing of the Core Knowledge Program.  What I find most ironic is that the blogger is definitely *not* aware (dare I say not well-read?) about each of the points he attacks. He uses random quotes from Hattie’s work Visible Learning and cherry picks from the effect-size list only what would serve his intention. Moreover, he shows lack of reading of Hirsch’s work and brings a straw-man argument to engage in the debate. I would like to analyze his post as I find that more and more educators slowly fall back into accepting gurus in education they most relate to and discard little by little the qualities that make us critical thinkers. For that, you need to read widely. Secondly, you have to learn more viewpoints, to be literate in terms of learning theories and pedagogy, and to analyze a lot of research – including those that create cognitive conflict and disprove some of the beliefs you hold. Thirdly, examine your own philosophy of education and see where your biases lie.

Let us then start with Hattie.

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