Position

Opinions on education issues are a dime a dozen. Informed expertise is rare.

The complex problems we face locally, nationally and internationally in our schools require approaches that can hold that complexity, especially approaches that value education expertise as specific and irreducible to economists’ models or private sector business logics.

Deep engagement with real schooling practice is a vital missing piece from the rhetoric written about education policy and change… and teachers’ voices are particularly absent.

More and more key thinkers of our age are recognising that ‘Big Data’ does not mean better thinking. We’ve more information than ever, and fewer people who know what to do with it. Children are not numbers. People are not numbers. And while statistics give us stronger terms to describe our problems, they are often used to over step the mark in prescribing solutions too.

In the words of Professor Aaron Levenstein, “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

In a moment where the promise of big data to solve social problems seems to be thin, rigorous research and analysis must be pluralist, grounded in deep reading and theory, but written clearly for a broad audience.

By combining real school experience, quantitative and technological competency, and a solid grounding in social theory and qualitative techniques, I offer analysis and research which seeks to re-establish the practice of thinking (rather than calculating) as the primary role and responsibility of any public academic, researcher or self-professed intellectual whose concerns align with constructing justice for all, equal opportunity and freedom from economic need.

So what do I do?

I think and read and write about schools. I value real teachers and real students’ stories, but also can bring systems thinking to bear on their everyday experiences.

I study policy – practice relationships, and can move from the mile-high arena of national policy to the microcosm of the classroom.

I utilize multiple methods, including deep ethnography, descriptive statistics and relational analyses, without reducing complex phenomena to cause-effect reductionism. With a degree in mathematics and computer science, a masters in education linguistics, three languages, extensive experience as a teacher myself and a broad grounding in sociological theory, I bring multiple tools and perspectives to research questions so that every problem doesn’t look like a nail waiting for a hammer.

I try to share research and tools for imagining differently with as many people as possible, in the hopes that this information and these tools will help precipitate change.

I take my responsibility as the beneficiary of a publicly subsidised education, and my role as a publicly funded thinker, seriously.

And I fervently believe in quality over quantity: that the current moment of tight deadlines and publish-or-perish proliferation is to the detriment of considered, careful, methodical and genuinely original solid research.