Heather Wolpert-Gawron

D-Ed Reckoning Comment: It’s Not Research’s Fault that Some Teachers Just Don’t Wanna

By on June 5, 2008

So I posted a comment off of a D-Ed Reckoning article today.  The original post suggested that education research is wasted money and cited Reading First as evidence.  I commented that it wasn’t research that was the problem; it was those who won’t implement it.

I commented as follows:

I don’t think that research is the problem. Without it, we wouldn’t have recognized the demographics on either side of the achievement gap, after all. I agree, however, that many teachers don’t want to implement what research proves. Granted, there’s always research that disproves other research, and granted, there’s always the data of the month that is brought in by every new administrator as a means to put their mark on a school, but I happen to agree that there is a contingent of teachers out there who don’t want to do the most obvious of researched and tested strategies.

Collaboration, for instance, is harder then isolated teaching. As a result, you get two groups in every school: those who will and those who won’t. Differentiation, on one level or another, is harder then whole-class, teacher-centered learning. As a result, you get those who will and those who won’t.

It isn’t the research that’s the problem. It’s the teachers who won’t step up and evolve based on it. Sure, not all the money can go to research. And, sure, if I were only given 5 billion dollars, I sure as heck wouldn’t spend it on research, but education has many needs and research can meet some of them.

Now, if you want to talk about using that 5 billion to AUDIT education (at every level, mind you: federal, state, district, and site), well, now, there’s money well spent.  

To read more on my views on auditing education, read my post here.

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  1. Dave Shearon
    June 6, 2008

    Hi, Heather. I agree that teacher led instructional improvement is critical, and have for many years. http://tinyurl.com/5p884z That means teachers have to believe in the change and work for it before it will work. However, I would quibble a bit with your state “Granted, there’s always research that disproves other research….” That’s may be true of “research” in the educational world because much of it is not rigorously done, is low power, etc. But it’s not true of research in other fields, including the social sciences such as psychology where I have some background. And, even in the educational world, there is some work, such as Dr. Sanders sea-change discovery that good teaching matters which has not only not been contradicted, but has been confirmed by indepedent researchers with different data sets, tests, and techniques. See http://tinyurl.com/6hnv3k.

    On the whole, however, I think you and I agree. It’s about willingness to change, and that’s not high. And it’s about skepticism of “research” claims promoted by some administrators. I know when I was on the school board in Nashville, “research-based” and “brain-based” were guaranteed to get my critical thinking skills in gear.

    Good luck in all your efforts, and thanks for the blog!

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