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Some quotes from Hattie and Hill

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a Pearson ‘Open Ideas’ event featuring a conversation between Peter Hill and John Hattie.  Listening to these two men speak quickly shows you why they are so well respected within education – they really know their stuff.

The conversation covered a wide range of topics and the audience were privy to a few insights into their perspective on the current state of affairs and what they see as the necessary ‘next steps’ in education.  Below, I’ve pulled out a few key quotes that I found most interesting.

I am aware that the majority of my quotes here are from Hattie.  Peter Hill did make some very insightful comments (particularly about identifying the needs of teachers in other countries/environment/systems), I was just capturing ‘sound bites’ that stood out to me and it would appear that Hattie is very good at this!  Hill’s talking points tended to weave a longer story and so feature a little less here.


“Getting the data is easy… the hard part is figuring out what it means.”  You have to ask yourself “What’s the story?”  
“PISA, I have mixed feelings about but, on balance, I think it’s performed an incredible service…  The quality of tests are very good, within the confines of what it does…  Only two countries have moved forward in reading…  In mathematics?  None.”  He went on to say that, in Australia and other countries, there’s too much of a focus on the rankings and not enough of a focus on the raw data that it provides (i.e. we need to look at whether we’re improving, declining or staying on a plateau).  Hattie jumped in and said that, in Australia, “We’re going backwards because we’re cruising” and that the challenge is to get people to realise that’s the reason for the decline in rankings – not a decline in standards but a plateau.  


“Let’s not forget that the purpose of assessment is for the teacher, not the pupil.”  He then went on to describe that, when he sees assessment systems that have been designed for the pupil, he thinks “Well, you’ve missed the point”.  
“Teachers are to DIE for: good Diagnosis, good Intervention, good Evaluation.”  This reminded me of PiXL’s DTT (Diagnosis Therapy Testing) model.  
Hattie went on to suggest that assessment is to tell teachers what they’ve taught well, not to tell the learner what they’ve learnt well.  


“Feedback is one of the most powerful influencers but it’s also one of the most variable”.  
“Feedback thrives on errors and mistakes.  If you don’t make a mistake, feedback is useless… When you go into stunning classrooms, they’re full of errors.”  
“We think of feedback as something that we give but the more powerful notion is how we receive it… Kids are humans, how do we get them to better receive feedback”.  
Hattie went on to explain that pupils only see feedback as relevant if it includes a “where to next” element.  If it focuses just on the quality of their existing work, then it has a less significant impact.  


“Nearly everything in the top ten to twenty [i.e. this info] are in the hands of the teacher but all of our debates are about schools and systems…  I don’t care about how teachers teach, I care about their impact”.  
“Free schools, academies?  What a a distraction!…  This con of giving parents a choice.  You can choose the school.  You can’t choose the teacher!”
“Teachers think their job is to create resources.  Oh my God, there are billions out there now!”   He went on to say that many teachers justify this by saying that their class is unique but that this isn’t true.  
“It’s totally unreasonable to ask teachers to be expert in everything… Schools need to train one person in every school to be expert in interpreting data”
“There’s no evidence that action research makes any difference to the quality of teaching”.  This was said in defence of teachers who don’t want to conduct research but want to get on with things that they know to work well.  

Talking points

There’s a lot to talk about here!  Some potentially controversial points and some that may ring true with you.  As always, I’d love to extend the conversation.  Twitter ( @johnskelleher) is always a favourite of mine but Martin Fautley has already said that he feels his points on this would need to be a bit longer, so I’ve created some space on the forum page for this.  
Disclaimer: I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible in my quotes but am open to the possibility that a few words are inaccurate here or there.  I am, however, confident that I captured the spirit of what was said.