Obvious to the Eye or Mind: Making Learning Visible | Harbord & Khan | 5 Min Read

Chapter 3

Ethical dilemmas have an impact on student interest and motivation. This discovery inspired our exploratory culture of learning in our Design laboratory and led us to develop a framework shaped by ethical values and ethical dilemmas–the Harbord & Khan Ethical Modelⓒ. Using this model can help make ethical issues more visible.

Making learning visible has become the goal for many schools in recent times. John Hattie’s meta-studies of more than 80 million students provide evidence to support the idea that student learning is optimized when teachers approach learning through the eyes of their students and empower students to become their own teachers [John Hattie’s latest podcast with Tim Logan of Future Learning Design may be found here]. Although it is tempting to draw conclusions from Hattie’s 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement, one needs a greater understanding of context to really get at what is useful from this study.

Hattie’s study includes data that shows the importance of teacher expertise in student learning. What other profession would need a study to confirm that their practitioners need to be experts in their field? This, sadly, reflects how poorly the teaching profession is viewed by many. The data also contains valuable evidence that we need to examine more closely. Many scholars prefer empirical evidence that is measurable because of the belief that facts do not lie. This study’s data has given educators validation for many things they knew anecdotally from their practice. It provides evidence for educators to explore and encourage cultures of learning in schools and beyond. Visible learning is one such concept that is supported by quantitative research and therefore has received wide acceptance. 

When we talk about evidence, words like justification, proof, assessment, or research might come to mind. Evidence can be data that reaffirms our belief (or lack of it) in systems. Oxford Languages Dictionary identifies its origins as Middle English: via Old French from Latin evidentia, from evident — ‘obvious to the eye or mind.’ What happens when we use our critical and creative thinking to look beneath the surface? When we use new tools and ask questions that are not obvious, we might discover there is more to the evidence than meets the eye. Sarah Parcak, Egyptologist and Space Archeologist, has done just that. Author of

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Harbord and Khan

Meredith Harbord EdD and Sara Riaz Khan are global educators who use ethical dilemmas to enrich and transform curriculum. Their student centric approach is driven by an ethical model and innovative tools that support critical thinking and creativity. Meredith and Sara’s collaboration as Design teachers at ABA Oman International School in Muscat, focused on sustainability, ethical design and global mindedness and inspired them to establish Harbord & Khan Educational Consultants. They develop units of work based on real world issues to engage and challenge students for diverse curriculums (IB, PBL, Common Core and Australian) and are available for professional development and to create programs to meet the specific needs of your school. Meredith and Sara have authored two teacher curriculum books ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 1, 2 & 3’ and ‘Interdisciplinary Thinking for Schools: Ethical Dilemmas MYP 4 & 5’ (2020). Website: https://bit.ly/3XopEzQ