23 November 2015

Items to Share: 22 November 2015

Education Focus
  • The Illusion of Knowing | David Didau: The Learning Spy 'Advanced Learning has commissioned me to write a piece about the uses and abuses of data in schools. My thesis, if that’s not too grand a term, is that while data can be extraordinarily useful in helping us make good decisions, too much data leads, inexorably, to overload. When we have too much data we start doing silly things with it, just because we have it. The cost of bad data is the conviction that we have figured out all the possible permutations and know exactly what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. This is an illusion.'
  • Are We Clear? Tips for Crafting Better Explanations 'How many explanations do you think you offer during a full week of teaching? Explanations are one of teaching’s most central activities and yet something we rarely think about, in general, or how we do them, specifically.'
  • The importance of knowing what doesn’t work | The NFER blog  'We are a long way from academic journals, let alone the press, giving equal weight to null or negative findings as compared to those that demonstrate a positive effect. Null or negative findings are, of course, just as important as positive ones. A school spending its valuable Pupil Premium resources on an intervention that is demonstrated to be ineffective can quickly change tack to something that has greater weight of evidence behind it. Was there robust evidence for or against the other book club programmes the DfE was considering when awarding its funding? Probably not.'
  • Letting in the Monster | Sam Shepherd 'There was a silence in the class. They’re a friendly but not naturally chatty group, but this time things felt distinctly like there was a great thing hanging unsaid in the classroom: not so much an elephant in the room as a glowering shadowy monster hulking in the corner. It was practically tangible. So where do you go with that? I thought. I bumbled and fluffed for a bit, realised that the thing was still there, and said, quite simply and openly to the class: “OK, let’s talk about it. Talk to the people near you about how you feel about the events in Paris.”
 Other Business
  • Nobel Prize for physics awarded to man who successfully connected to free wi-fi [newsthump.com] 'The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to a man who successfully connected to the free wi-fi in his local Wetherspoons. The achievement was widely regarded as a functional impossibility by the scientific community, but peer-review of his actions has concluded that he did indeed connect for long enough to check the final scores and his lottery numbers whilst having a pint of Speckled Hen.'
  • Robinson v Furlong: a case study in witch-hunting | spiked  'Many historic-abuse cases kick off with a journalistic exposé, followed by national appeals from campaigners and state agencies for more ‘victims’ to come forward. We have become inured to the pre-identification of an alleged perpetrator, the nature of the behaviour being investigated and the timeframe and place in which it (allegedly) occurred, followed by a proliferation of complaints, which are taken to be mutually reinforcing. This cautionary tale from Canada on how not to witch-hunt should be required reading for UK journalists, media organisations, judges and law-enforcement agencies.'And it is also interesting on aspects of good and bad practice in journalism—parallel to practices in social research—which most of us are unaware of.
  • The Space Doctor’s Big Idea - The New Yorker 'There once was a doctor with cool white hair. He was well known because he came up with some important ideas. He didn’t grow the cool hair until after he was done figuring that stuff out, but by the time everyone realized how good his ideas were, he had grown the hair, so that’s how everyone pictures him. He was so good at coming up with ideas that we use his name to mean “someone who’s good at thinking.” Two of his biggest ideas were about how space and time work. This thing you’re reading right now explains those ideas using only the ten hundred words people use the most often.' From the amazing Randall Monroe (alias xkcd): more at Randall Munroe Draws His Own Conclusions | TIME

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