Sir Michael Barber is chief education adviser at Pearson. (©Christian Sinibaldi / Guardian News and Media / eyevine)

Guess who gave a speech arguing that “joy and data” are the two most important ideas in learning and, in fact, that “data can and does bring joy.”

No, it wasn’t Microsoft founder Bill Gates. It wasn’t Education Secretary Arne Duncan, or any other of the American school reformers for whom big data is a holy grail.

It was Sir Michael Barber, who holds many positions in the education world, including as chief education adviser at Pearson, the world’s largest education company, and as chairman of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund.

Barber gave the inaugural speech, titled “Joy and Data,” of the Australian Learning Lecture series in Melbourne, Australia, on May 21. (You can watch it below.) The lecture series is described on its Web site as being “a catalyst for a two-year program of events, bringing new thinking to public attention.”

In his speech, Barber argues that the pursuit of data has wrongly been accused of sucking the creativity out of learning but that in his world view, data and joy are the two elements that will together improve learning systems around the world in the 21st Century.

Here’s how Pearson described it:

And there was this:

Absent a transcript of the speech, here’s what Barber says are four misconceptions about data, along with other speech highlights, as described in tweets from Jenny Luca, director of ICT and eLearning at Toorak College in Australia.

Here are some of the responses from critics, in tweets, to the very idea of Pearson linking joy with big data: