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Eckhardt's Misguided Quest for Certainty

Posted By: Kevin Gary on February 6, 2008
Mr. Eckhardt's commentary is part of the misguided quest for certainty. Reflecting on AERA presentations he laments why the field of education is not more scientific: "In formidable sciences, a prevalence of quantitative or mathematical inquiry is far more conducive to co-authorship, replication, and citation, which are critical to the generation of accepted core ideas, which, in turn, are critical to the establishment and legitimation of a knowledge domain." This is a long-standing critique. For sobering wisdom I direct Ekchardt to Aristotle's timeless insight in book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics:

"Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the craft....[For] it is the mark of an educated person to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs."

Education is not a hard science. It cannot not be adequately explained, captured, or understood by quantitative analysis as Eckhardt hopes. The Crystal Palace Eckhardt will always be shaterred by the complexity and multitude of variables inherent in educational endeavor.


Kevin Gary
Goshen College

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 Eckhardt's Misguided Quest for Certainty by Kevin Gary on February 6, 2008
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