Teachers cant do much about poverty, but they can make a profound positive difference to every child
In a new publication for Pearson ‘What doesn’t Work in Education’ John Hattie ,the author of Invisible Learning (2009), which identified the most effective classroom interventions, concedes that ‘Poverty, homelessness, abuse and inappropriate use of drugs are all major impediments to students progressing in their learning. They are, in particular, killers of high expectations and encouragement to succeed.’
But he makes the point that ‘ It is my view that we educators cannot do much to fix poverty. Instead, we can offer the best chances to help students’ no matter what their home situation is. Indeed, one of the reasons governments make schooling compulsory is that it offers all students a chance to succeed – and there are many teachers and schools that make important differences to the lives of children from poverty. The mantra needs to be, ‘I can make a profound positive difference to every person who crosses the school gate into my class or school regardless of their background.’
‘Poverty and low family resources are no excuse for not making a major contribution to students, although they certainly make for a tough start. A belief that we can make a difference for children from poorly resourced families is a critical starting point the mantra needs to be, ‘I can make a profound positive difference to every person who crosses the school gate into my class or school regardless of their background.’
So, Poverty and low family resources are no excuse for not making a major contribution to students, although they certainly make for a tough start.
Hattie points out that he was educated in schools with low socio economic status but his teachers ‘ helped me to believe that I could succeed in school’.
Teachers, he adds, must ‘find success in whatever way possible, creating the circumstances for success and removing barriers (especially low expectations and explanations of why we cannot effectively teach these students) to allow the best opportunities for all’
Hattie also returns to a theme that he has previously identified as a major barrier to education reforms-that is the need to address the profound variability among teachers in the effect that they have on student learning .Reformers focus on the difference in performance between schools, when they should be paying more attention to the differences within schools, and teacher effectiveness within schools , which are more significant. Solutions for this can be found through improving the expertise of teachers and leaders and supporting effective collaborative work and expertise.
He concludes “Recognising, valuing and enhancing the teachers and school leaders with high levels of expertise makes the difference. It’s what works best.”
WHAT DOESN’T WORK IN EDUCATION: THE POLITICS OF DISTRACTION
John Hattie- June 2015