3-Aug-22 | News

Shooting down children with data

Outline of a World War 2 fighter plane showing battle damage to the wings and tail of the plane, but no damage to the engines and crew areas.

During World War II, fighter planes would come back from battle with bullet holes. The Allies initially sought to strengthen the most commonly damaged parts of the planes to increase combat survivability. A mathematician, Abraham Wald, pointed out that perhaps the reason certain areas of the planes weren’t covered in bullet holes was that planes that were shot in certain critical areas did not return. This insight led to the armour being re-enforced on the parts of returning planes where there were no bullet holes.

This shows that the reasons why we are missing certain data may be more meaningful than the available data, itself.

In education, as exemplified by initiatives such as EEF (Education Endowment Fund), we seem to remorselessly focus our attention on why things work, rather than search for reasons why things don’t. Could it be that things work because most children have degrees of self-confidence, comfort and calm, trusting relationships with adults, a secure cultural identity, additional needs clearly identified and met, etc… ? Could it be that other children are shot down time and again?

In questions of education as well as aircraft design, don’t only listen to what the evidence says, listen also to what is not being said.

Check out https://courses.teachingtimes.com/bundles/raising-attainment-with-wellbeing