We all want the best for children and young people, and the decisions we take matter, not least because when it comes to education we do have a substantial amount of freedom. In other areas – healthcare, for instance – we tend to be prescribed particular treatments, but in education there is much more choice in terms of which education institutions to go to, which courses to pick, and which careers to aim for.

There is no shortage of advice and information – in some cases, too much – but anyone who says that the answer to making difficult education decisions is merely to read endless reports is often misguided.

To a large extent we also need to use our own judgement; after all, no one else knows a child better than a parent does, in the same way that no one knows a class of children like a teacher does. But our judgement isn’t perfect, because it relies heavily on intuition – when we know something without needing to go through the reasoning or proof. But it is more than just a hunch, or a feeling: it is when we draw on our memories, insights and experiences in a fast and subconscious way. It can be very effective, but it has biases, too. For example, we naturally recall information which sticks in the mind because it is the most recent or memorable rather than the most relevant.

I am convinced that, if we can spot these biases, we can each be empowered to think about education more clearly and make better choices. The Educated Guess runs through common and prominent examples of conclusions we tend to reach as a result of our thinking biases – and which can often lead us down the wrong path. In each case, this book sets out, in a thought-provoking way, how we can spot them and overcome them. The potential impact is huge, and could make a real difference to our education choices.

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