Telling another teacher how to teach? It’s a sin, says leading academic

The TES is reporting that a leading education researcher has claimed it is a sin to observe other teachers’ lessons simply to tell them how to teach.

Professor John Hattie, director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute and one of the world’s most widely quoted education academics, told a conference today: “I think it’s a sin to go into a classroom and tell another teacher how to teach. Because all you do is tell them how to teach like you.”

He went on to say that 80 per cent of what happens in the classroom remains unseen and unheard by teachers – only the pupils are aware of it. “So why would I give a damn about reflective teaching?” he said. “I don’t want to think about the 20 per cent we see. I want to think about the 80 per cent that goes on that we don’t see.”

This, he says, is where testing comes in. The role of testing, he believes, is not to test pupils’ knowledge: it is to test whether teaching is effective.

“I should be learning something about what impact I had, who I had an impact on,” Professor Hattie said. “What I’ve taught well and what I haven’t taught well…”

During his keynote address, Professor Hattie insisted that, rather than telling one another how to teach, teachers needed to listen to each other. Just as pupils flourish in a culture where they are allowed to learn through mistakes, so do teachers…

More at: Telling another teacher how to teach? It’s a sin, says leading academic


What do you make of the points made here?

Is there merit in the apparent suggestion that testing what has been learnt will be far more revealing than either thinking about your teaching practice or getting feedback from an observer?

If any readers were at the conference and heard Professor Hattie speak, perhaps they could give a broader context to the comments?

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Categories: Teaching.


  1. Nairb1

    Absolutely. I can’t believe this professor is so ill-informed. He notes that the role of testing is to ‘test whether teaching is effective.’ Well, prof, surprise surprise … that’s the key point for discussion when a lesson is observed. It’s isn’t about ‘good teaching’ it’s about ‘good learning’ and anyone with any sense knows that a prescriptive ‘teach it my way’ input won’t work.

  2. nmgilbride

    C_Hendrick ~”elling one another how to teach, teachers needed to listen to each other”…which is, of course, true leadership behaviour 🙂

  3. nmgilbride

    C_Hendrick “not telling one another how to teach, teachers needed to listen to each other”. True leadership behaviour 😉

  4. nmgilbride

    Trivium21c C_Hendrick but what has informed my beliefs, I love Boraytiz work on resonant lship (although dubious neuroscience use)

  5. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Worst thing one could say in feedback is “what I would have done is…” to an extent. Different people, different techniques

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