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This last week saw an explosion of pent-up frustration. It started with an argument sparked by a prominent edu-tweeter and then rapidly moved on to a critique of researchED.

You could almost sense the release of pressure. All of a sudden, armchair pundits everywhere were having their say on what researchED should be and how it should be run.

Since the initial diffuse criticisms, it has emerged that there are those out there who value different things. To them, researchED is ‘positivistic’, too critical of teacher education and too concerned with a narrow view of ‘what works’. They would prefer it to pursue and promote their own priorities rather than those of the people who run it and organise it all. And you can understand why. After all, researchED is pretty successful.

As a grassroots movement, researchED is capable of mobilising teachers on their precious weekends to come and listen to researchers and fellow teachers discuss the practical application of empirical education research. It has now grown into an international movement, running conferences in different continents. And it has achieved this without charging $600 a ticket thanks to partnering with a range of people and organisations who see its value.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

Well, I have an idea. Don’t be disheartened if researchED doesn’t promote your agenda. Instead, why not consider starting a movement of your own? For instance, there could be a pomoED that is largely uninterested in practical applications and ‘what works’. Instead, it could focus on dialectic, critical pedagogy and all that kind of caper. Organisers would be free to monitor presenters’ ethnicities and genders in whatever way they saw fit.

All you would need to do is find the right partners, put it out there and see what happens. I’m sure that there are plenty of teachers literally dying at the thought of an opportunity like this.


29 thoughts on “#pomoED

  1. I’m a dumbo and I didn’t know what a positivist was. I thought it was someone who thought everything would turn out OK in most situations. That is positive. Anyway I looked it up.

    positivism: in Western philosophy, generally, any system that confines itself to the data of experience and excludes a priori or metaphysical speculations.

    So positivism = data of experience.
    Positivism is not equal to metaphysical speculation.

    So are there people in education saying we should rely on metaphysical speculation rather than data and evidence? Nah that cannot be right!

    I’m putting my hand up here. I’m a positivist.

    1. Yes! Since when did “positivist” or (even worse) “positivistic” become a term of abuse? It reminds me very much of the “communist”/”communistic” accusations that used to be hurled about whenever someone questioned the orthodoxy.

    1. In this case, I am not really expressing a beef. I am simply pointing out that researchED has a different focus and so people who are interested in critical pedagogy might want to create their own conference.

  2. I absolutely agree with you Greg. Many critics abound. I encourage them to go out and start their own advocacy group, to mobilize disaffected citizens and create awareness, and change. See what those of us experience on a regular basis.

    Many tho would rather just pick away at other people’s success, and critique why they’re wrong to say what they say. They’re afraid of the truth perhaps. Whatever the reasons are, I am so grateful to people like you, and to Tom Bennett, and to Daisy, who have opened up our eyes, and our minds, to what certain truths are, and to pursuit it, for the sake of our kids, and for our future generations. At a tremendous personal cost, and sacrifice to families and ourselves. Some things never change. Shame on them, so as the Brits are famous for saying, Stiff Upper lip, and carry on…

  3. I wonder if this post will help persuade people that ResearchED truly values open debate. I wonder if it will help persuade people, including potential funders, that the ResearchED community is inclusive and prioritizes having educators of color participate in its events. I wonder what will happen to ResearchED if it becomes too strongly associated with strident rhetoric.

    1. Why should you prioritise having people of colour in Researched? Surely the basis of anyone being invited to speak is made on merit ie the credibility of what they have to say, rather than some banal idea of inclusivity.

      When people are invited according to the colour of their skin, isn’t that racist?

      1. Agree with you here. I also think it’s a political agenda. The folks using “of colour” might want to come up with an explanation for why they are using a rehashed version of coloured people to refer to those who are not white in the first place before lecturing anyone else on their attitudes and behaviours.

        More to the point, the self-same people manage to ignore any ethnic representation on ReserachED when said people aren’t politically aligned with them. I’ve been listed on the programme before and had people accuse the organisers of

        I go to conferences to hear what people have to say. It’s rare that anyone who calls for greater representation actually points out someone who has got something to contribute who has been overlooked. Instead, they want the organisers to source people so they can feel good.

        Lastly, I think if this was done in good faith it would be one thing, it’s quite another when it’s coming from people who don’t seem to have an end outcome in mind that they can define. How many is enough? Who decides? I also wonder to what extent it’s tied up in people’s personal issues which can’t be solved by a conference organiser, no matter what they do.

    2. Benjamin,
      My son put it this way. If I have sh!t on my face I want you to tell me. The important issue is not how delicately you put it. It is what I have on my face that matters.

      I think you should take up the issue of losing your audience with the writer who wants to complain about “positivistic conceptualisations”. That writer needs to understand that what is required of authors in some corners of academia is for a more general audience the equivalent of walking into the room with poo on their face and expecting to be taken seriously.

      The big issue here is not the slightly sarcastic tone of Greg’s post but the ridiculous rhetoric of some of the detractors here.

  4. As someone who lives in the boondocks of Queensland you have certainly given me plenty to think about as I continue my teaching journey. The videos from the current and past Research Ed have been a great way to hear and learn about all different aspects of education, teaching, learning. Your posts, in particular, have taken me to some inspirational ideas such as cognitive load theory and its implications for how we learn and as a result teach better. The travel time and cost has meant that going to conferences is prohibitive for many. And school leaders who make these decisions about who will go just often say NO.

    1. Exactly. This is why I was so keen that we had videos of some of the presentations this time that I ended up filming some of them myself. As I see it, the whole mission of researchED is about connecting teachers with solid research which, for whatever reason, they have never been informed about.

  5. One discussion about rED was sparked by your comment on Twitter about ‘smearing’. Critiquing doesn’t equate to smearing.

    As you say, there is no reason why people shouldn’t set up their own conferences, but if those conferences turn into an ‘international movement’ a bit of transparency about governance, policies, criteria and ‘partners’ might not go amiss.

      1. Poor Tom thought most people would be interested in what was being said not his motives.

        If I were he I would offer 2 hours talk time at the next researchEd to the critics. But they have to determine amongst themselves how to use them and give him the details 2 months in advance.

      2. …Poor Tom thought most people would be interested in what was being said not his motives….

        I find it quite sad these days that if anyone says anything which truly goes against the grain, the self-appointed Guardians of All Things Orthodox and Decent suddenly develop an obsessive, in fact prurient, interest in that person’s sources of funding, and put the worst possible spin on it. If anyone says anything predictable, conformist and anodyne, s/he might have been lavishly funded by a mass murderer and no-one would care.

    1. ResearchEd isn’t a public institution.

      What I find interesting is how this issue regarding “funding” even cropped up. Here in British Columbia (Canada) we have the biggest snake oil salesperson, Jo Boaler coming to town next year, sponsored by our provincial teachers math association. Tickets are $179 a pop. She charges BIG bucks for her appearances, and she’s also a huge contributor to our newly minted math curriculum…all the while not even having a shred of evidence that what she’s selling, even helps kids with mathematics. Yet where is the outrage, and online discussions criticizing our provincial union for allowing this to occur? Crickets…

      Conferences are allowed to exist in any form. Thousands are conducted annually in the world of education. I find it highly suspect that the one conference that gets singled out for “funding”, is the non profit ResearchEd organization. Let the message, and the success of this movement speak for itself. You don’t have to like it, but that has zero bearing on the accountability and the quality of its contributors.

      1. 1. What organisational status does rED have?
        2. Funding becomes an issue when there are sponsors or ‘partners’.
        3. Plenty of British people have criticised Jo Boaler
        4. Conferences are allowed to exist in many forms and people are allowed to ask questions about them.
        5. The Twitter discussion wasn’t about liking rED, it was about its accountability and quality.

  6. …Funding becomes an issue when there are sponsors or ‘partners’…

    Oh come on. A great many of the activities that constitute civil society depend on sponsorship of some kind or another. If one adopted the sort of ethical puritanism that suddenly infects the Guardians of All Things Orthodox and Decent when a heterodox viewpoint surfaces, hardly any such sponsorship would survive close scrutiny. It is the selective nature of the “investigation” that’s the issue here.

    Incidentally, public rather than private funding is hardly a copper-bottomed guarantee of intellectual honesty, particularly in an area like education – there are plenty of perverse incentives at work there as well.

    …The Twitter discussion wasn’t about liking rED, it was about its accountability and quality…

    You sure could have fooled me.

    1. It’s interesting how the arguments morph from one thing to another, it’s almost as though there isn’t a real reason to criticise it, it’s just nitpicking until something is found….🤔

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