There isn’t enough time to read properly.
Busy educators need super-condensed ideas. That’s why John Hattie’s little speedometers are so inspired. Want to know how effective feedback is? Simple – it’s really effective. Just do it!
It’s more complicated than that. Hattie subtly hides the subtle details in plain sight – the one place no one will look – in the text between his speedos.
Hattie’s work has been used to waste a staggering amount of teacher time. If he had just written the text and left the diagrams out, he would have been read properly. Influential education leaders, attracted by the numbers, have made feedback the defining concept for this generation of teachers. Thoughtful, slow-reading would have revealed the complexities of his analysis. We might now be giving learners really effective feedback.
In his follow up book, Visible Learning for Teachers, Hattie learnt from his mistake. The speedos are gone. Instead there is clear information and advice with exercises on how to get the most for your pupils’ learning. But you have to read it. In his own words, Hattie summarises his Visible Learning approach, which I think is wonderful:
The messages in Visible Learning are not another recipe for success, another quest for certainty, another unmasking of truth. There is no recipe, no professional development set of worksheets, no new teaching method, and no band-aid remedy. It is a way of thinking: ‘My role, as teacher, is to evaluate the effect I have on my students.’ It is to ‘know thy impact’, it is to understand this impact, and it is to act on this knowing and understanding. This requires that teachers gather defensible and dependable evidence from many sources, and hold collaborative discussions with colleagues and students about this evidence, thus making the effect of their teaching visible to themselves and to others.
This is the opposite of speedometers and effect sizes. This is the difference between slow reading and reading like a bat out of hell.