That Poll: A 1st Class Degree Vs Struggles at School


On Friday 7thJune, I posted the above question. Contentious, yes, cantankerous probably? What is the correct answer?  Well, there isn’t one. The question is relatively balanced, it was pointed out that teacher B had more characters than teacher A. I guessed that as academia is linked to educationalism within the axis of privilege (between credentialed and non-literate) teacher B should have more words. Not scientific in the slightest, but interesting none the less.


This question was posted with completely objective intent. I should point out that this came from MT about a psychologist from linkED in. I have been asked if this is an attempt to attack TeachFirst, I can assure you it is not. As far as I understand the TeachFirst criteria is 2:1 and above.

I should point out that I am not in favour of either teacher A or B, as either facet is meaningless without context. I would also argue I have no skin in the game, as I could also fit into either/both boxes.

Over 135 replies. 30+ people explicitly mentioned them being either teacher A or B or both in these replies. Humans form personal constructs that inform their understanding of the world and the environment. This means that the same thing can elicit a different response from different people. An example of this could be Ross’s dog patch (@RossMcGill),


I see an amazingly happy and bouncy puppy where other people may see a vicious and scary animal. The same dog two different perceptions, neither of these options can be said to be correct or to be incorrect, as all human construct meaning personally. This work comes from personal construct theory (George Kelly 1950) can be formed through 2 entities which are similar to each other and different from the third.

Where do these constructs come from? Is it from behaviourism (through positive and negative reinforcements)? From the psychoanalysis (the interaction between en conscious and the unconscious elements of the mind). George Kelly posits that these personal constructs are responsible and take control of their acquisition and interpretation of knowledge, we are active in our epistemology.

Through these constructs, we form a lens at which we see and interpret our environment. This is how racism, sexism, etc. are constructed, but that is for another blog and another day. Where the question posed was simply a hypothetical thought experiment with fictional teachers A and B, people through their own lens related it to their own experience. ‘I am Teacher A’, ‘I was both’. This act of putting yourself in the shoes of the hypothetical teacher (either A or B) made you agree with one side or vehemently deny the other. Where is the rational objectivity in these decisions?

Which I suppose does little harm in a twitter poll scenario. However, when recruiting or even in working with children do we let this creep in? Do we show affinity to those who have similar traits and experiences as us? Do we judge teacher’s lessons on our own experiences? Do we treat children and their reactions based on putting yourself in their shoes and letting our own experiences guide your decision?

If we look at this in behaviourist terms. We have to ask the question of propagation, is this propagated through the cognitive confirmation bias, the personal construct may set us up to look for a certain trait and then we look for it.  When we inevitably find it’s this confirms the original construct and reinforces it. (Further information on Cognitive Bias))

Meaning structures are understood and developed through reflection. Mezirow states that “reflection involves a critique of assumptions to determine whether the belief, often acquired through cultural assimilation in childhood, remains functional for us as adults”

(Mezirow, 1991)

George Kelly in his theory postulated that humans are in control of these constructs, these constructs may happen real time but also happen later. This would be like looking at something afresh later and seeing thing differently (you have decided to use another construct).

The good news is that Kelly and other psychologists have proposed we have a choice in both of these scenarios, the choice to use different personal constructs at the time or later. With respect to the behaviourist approach, we have the choice to replace the association and reinforcement by using techniques to ameliorate your actions.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.