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Another viewpoint

Posted By: Mark Foster on April 4, 2007
I don't agree with all of your statements. As with many issues, the truth is in the middle. I agree that much published research is very detailed and written for a small audience. That being said, most medical research is very detailed and written for a small audience, yet people accept it. Every small piece of research contributes to the greater knowledge level of the field. I believe the real problem is not that researchers do irrelevant research, but that practitioners don't involve themselves with it. Many teachers never do any research outside of what is required to pass a course or get a credential. Therefore, they take a negative view of it because they see it as irrelevant and as a waste of time. This has enabled the vast number of snake-oil salesmen, and authors who create catchy acronyms with bulleted lists, to flourish in educational circles. Many educational policy decisions over the years have been made based on a really cool book that administrators read at a workshop. These are fine and valid, but they shouldn't be substituted for real scientific research. I rarely see real educational research drive school curricular or instructional decisions. I feel the blame is on two parts, administrators looking for quick solutions to huge problems, and teachers who don't care to, or lack the time to complete relevant research. Even though schools usually have the largest concentration of highly educated employees in many communities, it is rare to find teachers that are genuinely concerned with true scientific inquiry. It is a shame that one cannot be a teacher and a researcher at any level other than higher education.

I donít think the solution is to eliminate educational research, but to embrace it and involve ourselves in the dialog. This would go a long way to make the research more relevant by involving the practitioners in the process. All teachers should be allowed time to pursue research projects in the same manner of higher education professors. This might involve giving teachers paid sabbaticals every now and then, but it would be money well-spent. Teacher morale would be greatly improved because they would be empowered to think and create real solutions to problems by immersion into a topic away from distractions of school.

I also agree and disagree with the author about the hard work required to be a successful teacher. It is nitty gritty work to be a good teacher, but I also view myself as a professional, and I do everything I can to advance the field both through educational research and quality teaching.
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 Another viewpoint by Mark Foster on April 4, 2007
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