Professor Stuart McNaughton has been appointed New Zealand’s first Chief Education Scientific Advisor. His job is to promote the use of sound scientific research in the forming of education policy, and to help ensure that changes are based on this rigorous research.
It’s a positive move, assuming he is listened to and does indeed consider all the research out there. For example, if research were the basis for whether or not performance pay was put in place, it would be a no go as there is a strong body of research out there showing that it does not improve student outcomes and in fact causes harm.
So I welcome him to the role with hope.
What’s not so hopeful is John Key’s endorsement:
“We think it’s a great idea to be focussing on science for our youngsters,” he said.
“I think we can always do better, the main thing is to encourage more youngsters to be actively interested in science – it’s very important for our economy, and it’s very important for how we can perform as a country.”
But here’s the thing, Mr Key … the role is not about teaching science. Not at all. Prof. McNaughton is charged with USING sound scientific principles and research to ASSESS possible education POLICY and make recommendations.
He is not teaching science, teaching science teachers, doing anything with the science curriculum. Okay?
It doesn’t give much faith the role is being taken seriously when the PM is confused about what it’s for.
Good luck, Professor McNaughton.