Leading the Blind
A Critical Look at Visible Learning
Keywords:neoliberalism, education reform, teaching, critical theory, learning
In 2009, John Hattie’s book Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement brought big data to education. In the decade and a half since Visible Learning was originally published it has been aggressively marketed and has now grown into a large suite of branded books, tools, and products. Visible Learning continues to exert influence over educational thinking, policy design, and decision making.
This critical essay probes the foundations of Visible Learning, seeking to better understand the book’s significance. Criticism is leveled at the methodology, positionality, capitalistic motivations, and mischaracterization of science underpinning the book and the subsequent franchise that has grown from it. The essay argues that the philosophy of education represented by Visible Learning is firmly within a reductive neoliberal ideology that seeks problematic reform, demands accountability, and promotes the de-professionalization of teachers.
Copyright (c) 2023 Greg Johnson, Melanie Janzen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with Critical Education agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).