Friday, September 29, 2017

On teachers

This Atlantic story does a nice job of illustrating why education is such a mess. The authors prefer their personal study, with a sample size of two and causal effects inferred from introspection and a loose before-after test score comparison, to actual research with sound identification of causal effects.

More broadly, there is a large literature showing that professionals of many sorts systematically overestimate their own knowledge. Scripted lessons can embody the universe of research findings about how to teach particular topics to particular types of students, which will almost always trump (on average) the idiosyncratic views of individual teachers. That does not mean that enthusiasm should play no role but justifying departures from scripted curricula based on teacher morale is very different than justifying them based on direct rather than indirect effects on educational outcomes.

The Atlantic should be embarrassed.

No comments: