Sometimes a piece of research comes along that makes one feel all smug and self-satisfied as one's importance to the universe is justified. Unfortunately there is a stream of research for just such a feeling of superiority - the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
In short, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is when a person possesses such a low level of competence that he/she doesn't realise just how low this competence is. And what's more he/she doesn't recognise others who have superior competence.
Examples of this are found everywhere:
- Politicians who speak with great confidence on a subject about which they know only what they have been told by their advisers - and refuse to accept that anyone else could know more.
- Spectators (generally sports commentators) who rail against decisions made by referees or sports managers.
- Union executives who offer opinions on how business or industry can be better run.
- Government officials who take the spark of an idea and create national and international policies or doctrine which others must try to understand and apply.
Another example appeared recently when the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) advertised in last weekend's press for a contractor to evaluate the 'usefulness, effectiveness of implementation (and the) impact of the National Professional Standards for Teachers'. What is astounding is that the standards that they refer to are the same ones that the current Prime Minister has so confidently suggested in the media as the panacea for the so-called problems we have with teachers and teaching.
The problem is:
- We already have seven sets of standards for teaching and teachers in this country (each State has standards they use in registering teachers plus the Australian Council for Education Research released their version in 2010).
- There are many international standards.
- Every university which graduates teachers has curriculum based on professional standards for teachers.
- The standards referred to in the advertisement have evidently not been either trialled in the workplace or, of more concern, are based on what teachers actually do.
- Further, the standards apparently are based on 'standardising teaching' rather than setting a high bar for teachers to aspire to.
Where the Dunning and Kruger research comes in is that over the last twenty years there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of trainers and consultants who have built a high degree of competence in writing performance/competency standards. And if even the most incompetent of them had been involved in researching and releasing these standards they would have at least given a passing nod to what happens in the workplace and carried out some kind of confirmation to ensure they at least have the terminology correct.
But we are talking about the government aren't we.
(For more on the Dunning-Kruger Effect go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect)