8 Comments
Mar 28, 2023Liked by Greg Ashman

Thanks for your work on this. My PhD student researching affect also looked into the references for this claim and came to the same conclusion. This is just the tip of the iceberg...

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Mar 29, 2023Liked by Greg Ashman

In my recent experience with a Masters of Teaching I came to a similar conclusion about the quality of a lot of education research. It seems rife with problematic research design, and small sample sizes, often a N of 1, from which later research references and makes broad claims. It struck me that the whole tertiary education field operates on an incentive to make novel and interesting claims that contribute toward the fight against the spectre of neoliberalism. This then results in equity-focused, hyper-inclusive, wellbeing-obsessed ideas being produced and supported by previous specious research, that seek to undermine many of the practices that we know lead to better outcomes for the majority of students.

While I admit that I lack the references to substantiate this claim, if I write it in my diary, apparently it can constitute the body of evidence from which I can produce a paper to enshrine this as gospel.

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I think it's always good manners to argue with the presumption of good faith on the part of others. But Boaler really tests this. I don't think she's an outright liar; instead, I think she tends to be unscrupulous and often distorts or exaggerates.

We have an expression in the US: "moving the goal posts", meaning that people change the agreed-upon rules after the fact. Do you have that in Australia?

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Great work Greg. Terrific that you took the time to research this to provide a counter claim to Boaler's nonsense. More practical examples about how the most successful tutoring companies in the world, such as Kumon, rely on rote learning, daily practice AND timed tests regularly, which help students become successful in math, never seem to materialize in these discussions with progressive educators. Will be sure to share this.

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That article just keeps stewing in my brain. Teaching is a craft that has strong connections to science and data, like for instance surgery. I think I would be less bothered by her if she said “this is my way of doing the craft and I think it is powerful”. But her distortion and at times whole cloth fabrications are so frustrating. The truth is you can bone a chicken with a paring knife or build cabinets only with glue. But the masters of the craft have established other more reliable methods to do their work. Math teachers have developed time tested methods for teaching the material that is the height of the craft. Not that these can’t be further refined but the idea of trashing them for her inefficient and unreliable ideas is clearly a bad idea. I just keep asking myself why this person who has such a loose connection to truth have such a powerful role shaping standards.

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Mar 30, 2023·edited Mar 30, 2023

Interesting that neuroscience was quoted. On that note, I am curious, Dr. Ashman, what you think about neuroscience approaches to learning. I am currently under going a class about about a new resource our district is using for math that uses largely the workshop model. While schema was talked about and seemed similar to what you say in your books, productive struggle (allegedly bto introduce new schemas) was heralded as the way to teach based on 'neuroscience.' What I say is a very simplified version but, it raised some flags and I haven't read the literature cited (Sousa et al).

The introduction of a concept with pictures and making sense of them is to build up the part of the brain for conceptual understanding. This is before introducing procedural fluency (which was lambasted). It is all supposed to make everything more equitable since low socio-economic students can access the part of the brain with pictures and not their frontal cortex due to trauma. It ended with the bizarre claim that we teachers in public schools are to make mathematical thinkers to overthrow capitalism...

Since, I am uncertain about the concepts, the teachers would say no doubt I am learning through cognitive conflict. What are your thoughts?

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thank you for the followup. In media, reporters (?) parrot the conclusions of a press release about a "study". They rarely read the actual study, which often does not support the conclusion. It is an intentional deceit, and the media is rarely called on it.

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