Thursday, November 02, 2006

Take Me To Your Leader! (Part 2)

Today I want to continue with the presentation of my research into the BCSE's leadership.

Where We've Been

In part 1 of this investigation, we observed that the BCSE, in its public lobbying, presents Roger Stanyard as being its spokesman. Moreover, its website does not provide the public with information about who its leadership then is. Neither does it tell us what their qualifications are to present themselves to the public as an authoritative voice in science education.

Now, our last article gave us a pretty big clue as to why that is - the BCSE's core does not have any experience in education full stop, let alone science education. We saw that there needed to be an internal discussion to even work out what the National Curriculum was, let alone what was in it.

De Facto Leader

Nevertheless, we saw that Roger Stanyard is clearly the leader of the BCSE. More than that, we saw that whilst the BCSE may not be a "one man band", certainly a single individual is playing most of the instruments.

We ended up by asking a question. Why would Stanyard be motivated to present himself to the public as a mere "spokesperson", when his true role is vastly different? Could it be because Stanyard's true qualifications clash with the BCSE's desire to present itself as credible science educators? Pulling all the evidence together, is Stanyard and are the BCSE demonstrating a consistent pattern of deliberate misrepresentation and untrustworthiness?

Stanyard's Qualifications

That brings us to today's research.

Now, "research" is probably a bit of a grand word for it. We haven't had to do much digging. Stanyard gives a pretty full biography of his education on his Yahoo profile page. Here it is[1]:

That takes us up to 1981. To fill in the picture from then onwards, we need to go to Stanyard's business website. From there, we can pick up what the qualification from South Bank University was - a diploma in finance:[2]

These two excerpts give us a complete picture of Stanyard's adult life since leaving school in 1972 (a couple of "gap" years excepted). After a bachelor's degree in economics, he took a diploma in finance, then a masters in business administration - and then went into a consultancy and management business in the field of satellite communication; a field which he has apparently remained in ever since. (According to Companies' House, DTT Consulting wound up as a limited company in 2004)[3].

Actually, there's one more interesting detail. Here's Stanyard in the BCSE's discussion group, happening to mention his degree:[4]

Now, I find that interesting. On a business website, which is presumably trying to emphasise his business qualifications, Stanyard describes his degree as being in economics. However, in another context, he reveals that it is a joint honours degree in geography and economics. In my mind this raises the question of whether Stanyard is deliberately misrepresented on the business website. However, I am not an expert in whether or not it is legitimate to describe a joint honours degree only in terms of one of the subjects or not. So I leave that up to your own judgment. There may be facts here of which I am not aware.

Where Does This Take Us?

Well, we're not just digging into this for fun, or nosey-ness. Roger Stanyard heads up a purported "Centre for Science Education", which lobbies MPs, educational authorities, and writes to newspapers. Anyone receiving such lobbying is entitled to ask the question, "What are your credentials to do this? How can I know that you're not just one of those groups of Internet nutters?". If Stanyard were just writing in his own name, and making it clear that he lacked proper standing, then people could adjust the amount of credibility they accorded his opinions accordingly. And this report of mine would just be intrusive and irrelevant. However, as Stanyard is presenting himself publically as a voice that ought to be listened to, we are entitled to examine the details of whether he has standing or not.

We can see, then:

  • Stanyard has no experience in the field of education. We knew already that Stanyard had no experience as an educator when we saw yesterday that he wasn't completely sure what the National Curriculum was. Now, we see it more clearly.

  • Stanyard has no experience in research science. His entire working life has been spent in consultancy and management business.

  • Stanyard's only involvement in the world of science is half of a bachelor's degree in geography. He has no accredited experience in the field in which his organisation focuses - the teaching of Darwinian evolution.
Summing Up

It's far to say, then, that Stanyard is neither a scientist nor an educator. That's worth remembering. We should say it again! The British Centre for Science Education is an operation founded, headed and mostly run by a man who is neither a scientist nor an educator. Yet it feels great liberty to fill its website with articles rubbishing scientists and educators who are leaders in their fields - professors, headmasters, members of the Royal Society - and so on. How much authority do those articles speak with? Or to put it more simply - can we trust the BCSE?

Now you know why I'm not spending time on this blog to interact with those articles. I am convinced that the BCSE are consistently characterised by deceit and misrepresentation, and cannot be relied upon to speak the truth even on simple facts about themselves. To earn the right to have their other material considered, the BCSE need credibility. And at this time, their credibility account has a severe deficit.

An After-thought

On the Internet, it is said, "nobody knows if you're a dog". The idea is that anyone can just set up shop. If their website looks good, then they can compete with the real experts and professionals. You can present yourself as a big-shot, and nobody will know any different!

However, there is another side to that coin - and that's why "The BCSE Revealed" exists. On the Internet, anyone can point out who really is a dog. Light can be shone, facts can be documented, and bogus experts can be exposed. That's why we're here.

David Anderson
bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk

All web pages as at 2nd November 2006.

[2] This is not strictly "Stanyard's" website, but this particular page advertises his services.
[3] See and do a search for "DTT Consulting". Do not confuse it with the similarly named "DTT Consultancy".
[4] (now only available with a password - contact me for a copy for verification).

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