The Dunning-Kruger Effect: A Malady of Reform

Diane Ravitch's blog

Thanks to a reader for introducing me to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Here is one definition:

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

—Bertrand Russell, The Triumph of Stupidity

We see all about us people who are certain they know how to “reform” education, even though they never taught, never engaged in deep study, and know very little about teaching and learning. The less they know, the more certain they are.

On the other hand, those who have experience are likely to say, “It depends.” Or “do no harm.” Or, try it out on a small scale first.” Or, “how do you know? What’s the evidence?”

Unfortunately, many governors and legislators are certain they know how to “fix” education, and they impose their wrong-headed solutions in people who work…

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