Why What Matters?
Education matters. Education has the power to change lives. Precisely because it is so important, and has such potential, there can be a temptation to look for quick and easy ideas to make things better – everyone wants to know ‘what works’.
In this project we are interested in understanding ‘what works’ – Where? How? When? However, we are also interested in asking more fundamental questions – What matters? What is education for? Who should decide? Too often, teachers and others are left asking ‘what works?’ when the answers to the bigger and more fundamental questions about what matters only get to be addressed by others elsewhere.
Research is at the heart of the What Matters project – using research, doing research, critiquing research. Sometimes we will find answers to questions, other times we may simply generate more questions. It is the process of asking questions that is the engine of change. By asking questions, sharing with others, engaging with evidence and collectively thinking through our responses we create the energy to transform the status quo.
- We all matter – we are committed to addressing the questions we decide are important. Those who work and study in schools are best placed to decide local priorities. What Matters is about trusting education professionals and users, and those in our communities, to set the agenda.
- Co-construction – we are committed to working together, education professionals, community members and researchers. There is no What Matters blueprint. What we create we will build together.
- Diversity of methods and approaches – we are committed to research as a dynamic and democratic process of enquiry. A research community, based on the principles of academic freedom, values a range of research methods and a plurality of ideas. Members of What Matters engage in a wide variety of research methods from randomised control trials to auto-ethnography and participatory action research. All are valued.
- Social justice – we are committed to research that makes a difference. We value debate about the purpose and ends of education, but our commitment is to developing education’s contribution to the creation of fairer, more equal and more respectful communities locally, nationally and internationally.