Knowledge Ventriloquism

This week I spent some time today as NZEI worksite rep (cue “typical unionist” calls from PM’s blog buddies) sharing some union information about the new government positions. Those wonderful things we like to call “change principals” and “expert teachers” were discussed and all agreed…

Why can’t we spend the $359 million on teacher aides?

Why indeed.

This came after I read an interesting posting from EduShyster about a topic called knowledge ventriloquism – I’ll let the man who coined the phrase, Ken Zeichner, define it for you:

It’s a particularly useful concept these days. Basically what you have is an echo chamber effect where think tanks and other advocacy groups just keep repeating each other’s claims until they are thought to be true. There’s a research component too, except that the research isn’t independent. In fact, you can usually predict what the findings are going to be based on who is doing the research. Cherry picking is another essential component of *knowledge ventriloquism.* Advocates of a particular position or program will selectively choose certain findings and ignore others. The problem is that by the time any of this reaches the mainstream media and the headlines, any nuance or complexity is lost.

In short, lies are repeated again and again and again by all sorts of policy-friendly advocates until they become the truth.

Of course, in New Zealand, our policy-friendly advocates aren’t think tanks or educational researchers. No, they are a pair of blogs. A pair of blogs who like to pass themselves off as informed voices of the right when all they actually are is a pair of blogs written, in part, by the National government.

These are New Zealand’s key champions of charter schools, education reform and principles sorry principals that can change.

These are our knowledge ventriloquists.

Not a teacher among them.

Mr B

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