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Posts Tagged ‘simpsons

The Simpson’s Paradox has nothing to do with the popular and long-running cartoon. It has everything to do with how a single dataset can result in contradictory conclusions.


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The video above explains this paradox with examples and initially uses medicinal interventions to illustrate.

This paradox also applies in schooling and education. So just because a university or an edtech vendor claims that a classroom intervention or a tool is effective does not make it so, even if it can provide the research.

What is crucial is access to the data and understanding how it might be interpreted. Rarely is such research shared openly, so stakeholders cannot make informed decisions. So what might a stakeholder do?

Consider the context, i.e., the circumstances in which the studies were conducted and the situations in which the interventions and tools are to be applied. These will provide a healthy dose of skepticism and spark critical thinking.

You need to be familiar with the pop-culture reference of Bart Simpson being punished by writing lines on a blackboard.

You also need to know how “interactive” white board vendors descended on classrooms to replace blackboards. Some still do now, but with glass boards instead.

When you see a tweet like the one above you might smirk or laugh.

After appreciating the joke, and if you are more critical, you realise that the rhetoric is not met by example.

The call is for teachers to move with the times. Bart was punished punitively, but he found a way to get around the work because he was more adept than the teacher or administrator. Perhaps the call should be for teachers to move with their students.

Changing the medium does not guarantee a change in the message or the method. The new and expensive boards do not move teachers away from chalk-and-talk. They leave the technology largely in the hands of teachers instead of with the learners. The creators, communicators, and correctors of content are the teachers. Neither the message nor the method has changed.

The overall message the GIF sends is this: Do the same thing differently. Being more efficient is necessarily being more effective. This is certainly not being innovative.

Ultimately, this is putting money in the pockets of vendors. There is nothing wrong if the vendor provides a worthwhile and meaningful service or product. But it is a cardinal sin if you are not getting any change in pedagogy for your dollars.


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