We have a new ever present danger.
Research into education is a good thing, the best research provides with ways forward to improve our work, it equally provides more questions than answers, it asks us to explore, to question, to think and reflect on the teaching in our schools. Good things that we should all aspire to but…
And it’s a big BUT…
We must be careful not to make assumptions, we must remain open to things working and not working, we must THINK!
In reality we must step back and question, what evidence?, where is it from?, does it apply?, Is it relevant?, and most importantly how is it being used?
There are too many cases of research being shoe-horned to fit an ideological argument. Research is currently brandished by some as a flaming sword of justice to smite unbelievers and castigate the unclean.
Research is cherry-picked, bent and twisted to support an argument and back an approach, selling an ideology is seemingly more important than whether it actually may or may not work.
The worst thing we can do is blindly accept approaches because the author claims its “evidence informed”
Personally I think “evidence informed” is the most dangerous phrase in education at the moment. It’s dangerous because it has become short-hand for do it this way. It’s a phrase that is constantly being used. It’s used to stop discussion, it’s used to prevent critique.
I am amazed at how many proponents of research in education try to shut down challenge and ignore alternative research. I am horrified that “evidence informed” has become synonymous shorthand for the “one true educational way” being sold to us from an increasing number of “edu-pushers” selling the next silver-bullet fix. The phrase is dropped to close–down argument, to “shhh!” challenging voices. Opposition is belittled and sneered at.
Conversely some people are happy to run on anecdotes if it suits their cause. Evidence apparently only counts if it suits them, other evidence is cast aside. The quest for truth is less important than the quest for control.
We are at a pivotal moment. We need some truth and honesty. Increasingly education is feeling done to rather than done with. All is done under the banner of research-informed and woe betide those who stand in front of this belligerent steamroller on it reckless journey.
Research has now been weaponised. The question is Do we want research to control us or to set us free?