to argue for a particular method of teaching.
Asked his views on Daisy Christodoulou and Robert Peal, British authors who cite his research in polemics against "so-called progressive" education, Professor Hattie said: "This obsession about how we teach is quite frankly a mistaken obsession.
"If these people are writing that you should teach in this particular way, they have missed the message of the whole book, which is about the impact of that teaching."
He is concerned that they use his work to place too much emphasis on "direct instruction". "It is one method," Professor Hattie said. "I care about the impact of that method and sometimes. it doesn't have a good impact. If I use a direct instruction method with you and you don't learn, I should change. I shouldn't do more direct instruction."
The New Zealand-born academic also raised concerns that his ranking of 140 different classroom strategies was being used as a definitive guide to what worked in teaching. "What drives me mad is people take the top 10 and say `tick, tick, tick, we are doing those'," he said.
Professor Hattie added that strategies such as homework in primary schools, which his work showed had little or no impact, could be improved rather than abandoned. But he also thinks that too many teachers spend time devising their own methods because they misguidedly see their classes and pupils as unique.
"We still work on the assumption that teachers should have the autonomy to teach as they like," he said. "Isn't it interesting that in the medical profession over the last 20 years the local doctor has lost their autonomy?"
Professor Hattie said no one had "contested the story" he was telling, but added: "I have put up a reasonably strong theory and I would like someone to pull it down. I would love to be wrong."
Hattie on choice
Teachers, rather than school structures or systems, improve learning, according to Professor John Hattie.
"We are so obsessed with free schools and academies, but what a distraction. Isn't it a con?" he said. "You give parents this belief about choice. They can choose the school. But they can't choose the teacher."
His work, he added, should give more schools in England licence to say they were successful. "You love to beat up your teachers," he said. "It is very hard for the system to say: `We have excellence here in England.' I think I have discovered a way of saying to you, `You're good at your job, you don't have to keep ratcheting up, you do a good job as you do it.' "