Why AfL might be wrong, and what to do about it


Some cows are so sacred that any criticism of them is fraught with the risk of bumping up against entrenched cognitive bias. We are fantastically bad at recognizing that our beliefs are often not based on evidence but on self-interest, and it’s been in everyone’s interest to uphold the belief that AfL is the best thing that teachers can do.

When confronted with ‘others’ who disagree with our most fervently held beliefs, we tend to make the following series of assumptions:

  1. They are ignorant
  2. They are stupid
  3. They are evil

When in the past I have been critical of AfL (or anything else) the most common responses is that I don’t understand it. When I present the incontestable evidence that I do understand it, opponents often treat me as if I’m a bit silly: only an idiot could believe anything so ludicrous and patently untrue. When they accept that my counter-arguments are sufficiently cogent that I prove at least a modicum of intelligence, there are only two remaining propositions: either I am evil, or you are wrong. Of these, it is far easier, and massively less damaging to our sense of self to assume that I must in fact be a bad un seeking to poison children’s life chances with my toxic spewing of such dark falsehoods.

Read more on The Learning Spy…

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2 Responses to Why AfL might be wrong, and what to do about it

  1. ijstock says:

    In this post and some of your previous ones, you are, in my opinion starting to ask precisely the questions that urgently need to be asked about the PC world of educational orthodoxy. Much of it simply doesn’t add up. My only reservation is that you seem to be going looking for solutions that equal the problems in complexity! In reality, the whole thing is just so much simpler!

    If you haven’t already seen it, can I offer you a link to my blog, where I’m discussing very similar issues? One post coming up in the next few days will tie in very nicely with your comments above.


  2. Pingback: The 3rd Echo Chamber Blogpost of the Week (as featured in the Chalk Talk Podcast) | The Echo Chamber

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