Author Blog

Hattie on Ruby

Ruby's authors reflect on the compelling vision of one of the world's best regarded educational researchers

Professor John Hattie is known as a man of the head – very much at home in the world of randomised control trials and carefully calculated effect sizes. He is prone to upset audiences of passionate educators by telling them, somewhat gleefully, that there is no evidence that ‘early childhood education’ (for example) works! By ‘works’ he means produces significant positive effects on achievement, and by ‘evidence’ he means quantitative statistics. But there is a different John Hattie, much more a man of vision and of the heart, who reaches out and grabs control of the typing fingers every so often.


For example, in Visible Learning for Teachers, he writes: ‘The purposes of education include more than achievement…Among the most important…is the development of citizens with challenging minds and dispositions who become active, competent and thoughtfully critical in our complex world…Schooling should have a major impact on the enhancement of character.’


While in Visible Learning we find Professor Hattie saying: ‘Dispositions to learning should be key performance indicators of the outcomes of schooling. Many teachers believe that, if achievement is enhanced, there is a ripple effect to these dispositions. However such a belief is not defensible. Such dispositions need planned interventions.’


So we found it very heartening, but not so surprising, that such an eminent and hard-nosed researcher as John should find himself very much in sympathy with what we have tried to do in Educating Ruby when he wrote:


‘Schools for everyone are a 19th century invention. They trained young people for the work force, developed factual knowledge, and encouraged compliance, passivity and discipline. But the world is different now. Most children are not born into stable communities; instead the globalised, digital world is at their fingertips. 


Now, relishing adventure, learning from mistakes, and engaging with challenge are the very essence of learning (as evident in video games and sport) and Educating Ruby shows that developing such character attributes can also be at the heart of successful schools. Ruby is typical of all the children we need to educate to live in this exciting, buzzing, and changing world.


This book has a welcome and strong message that it is not an either-or; the development of character and competence can go hand in hand. And it is beautifully written, underpinned by excellent research, and with the strong practical implications that have long been the hallmark of Claxton and Lucas's work. We urgently need to upscale the messages and methods of this book. Thanks to Ruby, Guy and Bill for leading the way.’


...and thanks to you, John, for your generous words of encouragement and endorsement to us all.