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:
- They are ignorant
- They are stupid
- 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.
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