Tuesday, February 18, 2020

'Evidence based' policy and it's absurdity

On 16.2.2020, I read an article on evidence in the Sydney morning herald on the internet.

Here are some excerpts from the article.

We’ve all heard or read it in some form: “This is evidence-based” or “The research says”. If a policy or practice in education is not based on evidence then, frankly, it doesn’t get a look in. Evidence is the new catchword in education. On the surface, that’s reassuring.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s essential that policy and practice are based on solid evidence. But too often only half the picture is revealed. Either evidence is sought to justify an existing preferred position, or the complexities of teaching and learning are glossed over in favour of an “evidence-based” silver bullet.

Those responsible for decision making about schools need to be wary of dogma masquerading under the rhetoric of “evidence-based” policy or practice.

45 years ago, someone had said that ‘Phonological awareness deficit is the cause of dyslexia’. More than a hundred professors then began to quote that statement as if it was the gospel truth.

In 2010 I wrote extensively to universities and professors disagreeing with that theory and I was asked for empirical evidence.

You may read some of the articles I posted in 2010 by Googling - https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=phonological+awareness+luqman

Fortunately, that theory was debunked in 2015.

I also wrote in 2010 that consonants should not be taught with extraneous sounds as this causes confusion and is one of the main reasons why kids shut down from learning to read and then are wrongly classified as dyslexic.

Again, I was asked for empirical evidence.

Are educators that naïve not to understand despite my explanation that kids predisposed to shutting down disengage from learning to read as this causes confusion?

This obsession with empirical evidence for each and everything on education requires scrutiny. There are people with vested interest preventing anecdotal pieces of evidence, which can easily be verified, from being considered.

Here are a few more excerpts from the article above.

Too often “evidence-based” policy has involved limiting rather than broadening alternatives, privileging particular forms of evidence over others, and narrowing consultative processes.
Claims of evidence need to be treated with the degree of caution we apply when we now look at news: Is it fake or authentic? How am I being positioned? Are there alternative views on this topic? Whose interest is being served here?

What has happened to critical thinking? What has happened to logical thinking?


Dr Phil Lambert is national president of the Australian College of Educators. He will be speaking on a panel about insight we can gain from international education at The Sydney Morning Herald Schools Summit on Thursday, February 20.

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