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Everything we know about education is Wrong! David Didau ResearchED - 6th September 2014
How many research papers are published each year? 28,000 – 90,000 So, why hasn’t research changed teaching? Does research only tell us what was, not what might be?
What is education for? Transmission of culture? Making children clever? Preparation for work? Preparation for effective citizenship? Preparation for life? Challenging the establishment? Education is “values saturated”
We’re all wrong! To err is human
If it looks like a duck…
The Illusion of Naive Realism
The eyes see only what the brain is prepared to comprehend. Henri Bergson
The problem with intuition Our brains are not rational or logical; we protect ourselves from being wrong Confirmation bias & the Backfire Effect The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight Sunk Cost Fallacy The Anchoring Effect David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. Richard Feynman
Darwin & the myth of progress The growth of our knowledge is the result of a process closely resembling what Darwin called ‘natural selection’; that is, the natural selection of hypotheses: our knowledge consists, at every moment, of those hypotheses which have shown their (comparative) fitness by surviving so far in their struggle for existence; a competitive struggle which eliminates those hypotheses which are unfit. Karl Popper
What we think success looks like
What it actually looks like
When others disagree We assume: They are ignorant They are stupid They are evil.
The problem with evidence It’s not the same as proof: “You can prove anything with evidence!”
“You can prove anything with evidence!” Effectiveness of leech therapy in chronic lateral epicondylitis: a randomized controlled trial (Pain 2011) Maggot Therapy Takes Us Back to the Future of Wound Care: New and Improved Maggot Therapy for the 21st Century (Sherman 2009) Laser drilling holes in components by combined percussion and trepan drilling (Emer 1998)
The problem with evidence It’s not the same as proof: “You can prove anything with evidence!” Context is king can we generalise? What if it conflicts with our values?
Where’s the evidence! Getting behaviour right should be schools’ top priority Students should enjoy learning, but enjoyment should not be our aim Everyone can be better at anything Learning happens when you think hard Any policy predicated on the belief or expectation that teachers can or should work harder will fail.
Correlation is not causation How can we isolate the variables in classroom research? If you look for a link, you’ll probably find it…
Where’s the evidence! The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems which trouble us; through problems and methods pass one another by. Wittgenstein
How People Learn (Donovan 2001) To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: have a deep foundational knowledge of factual knowledge, understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application No amount of empirical research could ever demonstrate that these things are not connected!
Measurability Do we look for what’s easy to measure rather than measuring what’s important? What is the ‘unit of education’? Can we really trust effect sizes?
So, what should we do in schools? What the research says? What we’ve always done? What works for us? What gets results? Or, make predictions that are meaningful and measurable?
The power of prediction Does a physicist have to examine all atoms to be able to make predictions about the behaviour of all atoms in all contexts? Do we believe children are broadly similar or different? Can we make generalisations about how we learn?
Bayes’ Theorem P(A), the prior probability - the initial degree of belief in A. P(A|B), the conditional probability - the degree of belief in A having accounted for B. The quotient P(B|A)/P(B) represents the support B provides for A.
The burden of proof How likely does a prediction seem? Does it look like a duck? “Good tests kill flawed theories; we remain alive to guess again.” Is it falsifiable, replicable, controlled, large enough, published? Always remember the bias blindspot!
Things which seem probable The spacing effect The testing effect Cognitive load theory
“As learning occurs, so does forgetting…”
Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885 The spacing effect About 90%?
The Testing Effect Which study pattern will result in the best test results? STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY – TEST STUDY STUDY STUDY TEST – TEST STUDY STUDY TEST TEST – TEST STUDY TEST TEST TEST – TEST
Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis — which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism — especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested — and you’re not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science. A judicious mix is what we need. Carl Sagan
To get anywhere, or even live a long time, a man has to guess, and guess right, over and over again, without enough data for a logical answer. Robert A. Heinlein
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