One rule for me, another one for them

I found myself giving a wry smile to the latest from Kevin Stannard in the TES:

For years, those of us who questioned the progressive orthodoxy in education were told that there was no evidence for our views. On my PGCE course back in the 1980s, I remember arguing with a respected lecturer in education,  who assured me that there was no evidence that teaching grammar would be helpful for learning languages, for example. Any evidence I came up with was dismissed as anecdotal or right wing nonsense.

Now the boot is on the other foot and Stannard does not like it. He   claims, “Making the entry barrier to research too high for most teachers to reach compromises the commendable drive for more practitioners to engage in action research.” I don’t know what evidence he has for this claim, but I would say that my wish to engage in educational research has been stimulated by reading blogs. More and more teachers seem to be doing so year after year. Stannard appears to long for a lost world before the blogosphere, where teachers who had not heard of the Hawthorne effect would be encouraged by SLT to try out the latest fad on a control group and trumpet its apparent success in a staff meeting. This would then be followed by instructions from SLT to incorporate the said fad into lessons forthwith, as its success could be vouched for by a respected colleague.

Sorry Dr Stannard, but that won’t do any more. We’ve wised up. We want proper evidence. And I think that’s a good thing.

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13 Responses to One rule for me, another one for them

  1. teachwell says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there. I did a SCITT PGCE and while we touched on some theories of child development, we were never subjected to the progressive barrage that others experience on their courses (spending so much of our time in school). I am grateful for that!! Then again I believe the SCITT being an alternative route in the first place was intended to be different. Indeed, one has to question why it’s appropriate to lower the bar when we are talking about the life chances of others. Surely the bar should be high given the impact not only on the individual but on their family, their own children and on society.


  2. madeupteacher says:

    Well said. For years I taught the children in my class as much phonics as I could while trying to fit in miscue/guess the word/ sight vocab/ initial sound then guess the word/ use the picture to guess the word/ use the context….etc, etc. I’ve seen so many initiatives come and go but it’s only now that I feel free enough to question. I agree, you are right to smile wryly.


  3. You’ve completely overlooked what Stannard says about positivism and RCTs. Which rather reinforces his point.


    • fish64 says:

      I acknowledge that Stannard does concede that trying out an idea on a single class does not automatically make it transferable. But he gives himself away with his fear that “initiatives and innovations get choked off”. I don’t see how this will happen. Teachers will continue to try out new ideas as they always have. What is now beginning to change is a culture where SLTs can demand that everybody should implement an idea whose apparent success is based on spurious research.


  4. fish64 says:

    Well. as I understand it, he seems to say that positivism isn’t necessarily gospel. I would agree. According to him, it is no more robust than other types of research. I would disagree. He can’t have it both ways – he was critical of Daisy Christodoulou’s so-called “patchy use of research evidence” in the “7 Myths,” but in his video clip on the Independent Learning Transition Project he makes some unsubstantiated claims of his own, based on, I would argue, “patchy use of research evidence.” Quite frankly, if I were to be shown this clip at a staff meeting, I would be demanding more robust research.


  5. Positivism is a conceptual model of science, not a research method. Don’t understand your point.

    And could you give a link to the video clip you refer to? Thanks.


  6. Thanks for the link, but this is just an introduction to a project. No mention of research methodology.


  7. What unsubstantiated claims is he making? Transition points as points where knowledge and skills are lost has been an issue in the education system for ever. Isn’t he saying that the GDST effectively provides a control for a research project on the impact of transition?


  8. fish64 says:

    We could go on for ever here – but I’ll just take one example – the point about creativity being lost.


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