Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Kelvin Smythe John Hatties nemesis!
Education is at turning point. National Standards takes us back to the past. The revised curriculum the future. Schools however can't have it both ways. Compromise is almost as bad as compliance. Kelvin Smythe has a steady eye on the future. John Hattie seems confused - busy hedging his bets.
The following, is an abridged e-mail sent out by Kelvin and sums up a long posting of his .Read the full posting for yourself.
'This posting', Kelvin writes, 'addresses the question of how an academic of such intelligence and status can be so superficial, can be, just when it matters, so unimaginative, have such fantastic blind spots, promote opposing ideas with such credibility.
'I have been very gratified at the exceptional number of people who clicked on to this posting. I know it was long, in many ways inappropriately long for busy teachers and principals. In that respect, I apologise.
In the case of Hattie, I really wanted to work out for myself how he advanced his pedagogical case. He is an immensely powerful academic, not only for what he is, but also for what he represents; understand him and his pedagogy and you understand the future of New Zealand education.
After a quick reading Hattie’s article I knew that he started off with saying we had a glorious past (but not explained), and that while he started off with apparent scepticism about National Standards, he quickly moved into full support (but not explained), on the grounds that he had the answers to avoiding the significant problems that had occurred in other implementations.
I also knew that by the end of the article he was a million miles from coming up with the answers. I was also aware that there were areas of education activity and education research he avoided the best he could (for instance, the influence of socio-economic factors on learning, also the parts of learning that are difficult to measure, the purposes of NS).
In the course of the writing I came up with a lot of gems. The best in my opinion was when he was discussing Alexander’s UK research (which recommended doing away with NS) – very adroitly Hattie shifts from discussing NS to discussing the apple pie of high standards. (He was trying, it seems, to appropriate Alexander’s recommendations against NS to his NS.) Also, he seemingly agreed with Alexander’s criticism of national tests – SATS – but two paragraphs later, in his conclusion, he praised their architect and recommended we follow SATS’ implementation as a model.
Probably the most concerning gem was the way Hattie started off a paragraph extolling the importance of teacher voice in policy matters, but ended by suggesting that teacher organisations were unfit for the purpose and other arrangements were needed. I have great fears for the future of our teacher organisations.
Hatties ‘Horizons and Whirlpools’ article is replete with sudden, complete, and blithe shifts like these.
I see a not too distant future when teacher organisations are sidelined, principals are government servants, and the curriculum narrowed to a pinpoint'.
At least Kelvin can envision a future horizon but the choice still lies with schools. Will they be sucked into Hattie' whirlpool? Or will they have the courage to value their own professionalism?