Do Not Assume? By @ASTSupportAAli

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We have all heard the saying…

Assumption is the mother of all screw/fuc* ups/evil

Is this the case in every walk of life? I am an educator and sometimes I have to assume right? Many educational theories have been based on some form of assumption; Cognitivism, Connectionism, Constructivism, Social Constructivism, Situation Learning Theory and Connectivism? SO, I should not be blamed for assuming things?

One factor prominent in ones life will surely cause and effect on the rest?

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Cause– A strong association is not proof of anything? So, if a student has a Special Educational Need or Disability, or even English is not their first language. Or, maybe they come from an economically challenging background. This does not mean they should under perform. This should not be the effect?

The effect being a result or consequence of an action or other cause. Here, is where we come in. You and I. We need to be the action and/or other cause to make the change.

We have the power to…

  • Teach

(I was going to write a whole range of adjectives explaining what we do as educators, instead, click here for my A-Z post about teaching and learning. Or watch Taylor Mali’s video below!)

David Hume research shows that while “we may perceive two events that seem to occur in conjunction, there is no way for us to know the nature of their connection.” Hume continues to argue against the very concept of causation, or cause and effect. “We often assume that one thing causes another, but it is just as possible that one thing does not cause the other.

Therefore are our feelings about particular students certainty in not achieving then, is a habit of association. A belief that is unfounded and meaningless. But, we have Data Dashboard, Raise Online, FFT Data, that all shows certain characristics cause underperformance, or a gap between others, who do not have those factors?

But, because we have repeatedly seen certain characteristics within students who have not performed well in their examinations or their behaviours, it does not mean it is a certainty that those characteristics will still cause the outcome or another.

What do you expect, look at their home life.

I mean, what would you do if you had parents like that.

Oh, that kid, he lives in ********, they are all like that there.

We have all too often heard these comments. *Sigh*

Some scientistic may state that we have to draw conclusions, stating the concept of induction.

Also, many teachers are fully embracing a research led approach to their practice which is encouraging. I have used the EEF toolkit to present to my staff about what Quality First Teaching looks like for example. See here.

Therefore we assume we know the needs of our learners, we assume we have matched the perfect task to illicit this learning from our students. The students assume that what the teacher is telling them to do will help them achieve whatever threshold has been assumed of them? (Mostly!)

These ‘assumptions’ can be validated by evidence, by data, by outcomes.

However each student is not an entire data strand. Each is an individual entity and each should be treated with the utmost aspiration and ambition.

The future doesn’t necessarily have to represent the past.

We should not assume something will continue to happen if it has happened in the past.

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We like to think all of our beliefs are based on years of experience and sound judgement. We believe that it couldn’t possibly be wrong to think in that way. After all, we are logical, rational, objective individuals right. Well, wrong to a certain extent.

“Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that involves favoring information that confirms previously existing beliefs or biases. For example, imagine that a person holds a belief that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people. Whenever this person encounters a person that is both left-handed and creative, they place greater importance on this “evidence” supporting their already existing belief. This individual might even seek out “proof” that further backs up this belief, while discounting examples that do not support this idea.” (Ref.)

Here are some tips to avoid confirmation bias summarised from here.

  1. Remove your ego- Seek the truth over being right.
  2. Seek disagreement and keep information channels open- Don’t align yourself with ‘yes’ people only
  3. Ask better questions- rephrase questions to ‘why might I be wrong?’
  4. Search better- Don’t site the first webpage of 3 billion that agrees with you.

So what role does this play in making assumptions?

Piaget stated that:

Intelligence, like a biological system, it constructs the structures it needs to function.

Second, knowledge is the interaction between the individual and the environment.

Third, the growth of intelligence is influenced by four factors:

  1. Physical environment
  2. Social environment
  3. Maturation
  4. Equilibration

By this theory, if a student is SEN/D, PP, EAL and so on then we can assume their hinderances may mean they under perform?

However, could we be the ‘main’ environment for the children. The school…?

By not assuming those conditions are any less for any student with any additional need, or by providing an equalising of those factors, we can break the mould. The new SEND Code of Practice refers to them as reasonable adjusments. Both in and out of class.

For example; I read an amazing article by @SchoolsWeek yesterday, referring to @VicGoddard’s nuture room in his school. Read here. Vic is providing this to equalise these ‘uneven playing fields’ He is doing this to ensure that students physical and social environment will not affect their learning. We do this in a variety of ways already. If you are unsure, look at your schools Pupil Premium expenditure report. (See here for my post about Pupil Premium spending!)

We can all play our part in doing this… Sometimes, we do more than we should. I wrote a post about providing revision sessions in holiday periods here… let me know your thoughts?

(Both Vic and I are keynote speakers at #TMBerkshire in July- come along!? Sign up info here…)

Do Not Assume:

So, what would I say are the key things to not assume? I can not possibly write them all down, so I will focus on revision and examination preparation…

  • Students have somewhere quiet to work- research your local library/community centre opening times and give them to your students. Give them a bus timetable, maybe, even a buss pass?
  • Students know how to structure their time. Write a plan with them, build in necessary things.
  • Students know the importance of their examinations. Explain the outcomes, the next steps and why.
  • Students will be able to print out resources, or google information. Do this for them. Show them exactly where to look. My classblog is an example of this. (Do not assume they have the resources to do this either!)
  • Students know how to revise. What to do. Know what they most effective strategy is for them.
  • Your method of learning will be the best for your students.
  • Students understand your sarcasm/idioms/euphemisms/social rules- explain, and then explain again!

I have to go to my cricket match now, so will finish this post later, by proof reading for one and adding more information!

If you have any other assumptions you would like to add, please do assume I want to read them. Comment below!


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