'Walking the talk' matters in the use of evidence for transformative education

Publication Details

Invited paper for the International Bureau of Education - UNESCO Project: Rethinking and repositioning curriculum in the 21st century: A global paradigm shift. Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education, Wellington: New Zealand.

Author(s): Adrienne Alton-Lee

Date Published: November 2017



The International Bureau of Education of UNESCO (IBE-UNESCO) proposes

an urgent call for deep rethinking of the curriculum, its conceptualisation, its positionings and its processes, to enable the design of future curricula that will not only respond effectively to current and imminent changes, but more importantly, that will become catalysts for further change throughout the 21st century.
(Marope, 2017)

In this think piece, I respond to the urgent call for transformative change in education. 

I sound a caution about how important it is to attend to evidence about the how to achieve the goals for which there is urgency for a different kind of outcome; both locally and globally. Given such urgency, action is a priority. There is too much at stake to invest in well-intentioned action that will likely lead to counterproductive outcomes. I provide three examples of hidden curricular effects that highlight the importance of evidence of impact on learners of their educational experiences. Change is needed. In the final section I highlight an innovation that accelerates improvement across simultaneous success trajectories for competences identified as critical by IBE-UNESCO.


  1. I am indebted to Associate Professor Mere Berryman, of the University of Waikato for use of her phrase, 'simultaneous success trajectories' which she created in the context of her seminal role in transformative change in New Zealand education. Along with Professor Russell Bishop, Associate Professor Mere Berryman developed Te Kotahitanga; a World Innovation Summit in Education Award winning intervention.

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