Desmond Ryan

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Desmond Ryan
Posted over 1 year ago
'Drop-outs' vote against school - do they have a good reason?
Good evening, Scott, from Scotland Please develop your hunch about children as the soil from which all things in society emerge. I find your perception of American society's take on education very reasonable. It fits the facts, and chimes with Ken Robinson's picture. Interestingly, you and he both echo a characterization of educational research first published in Edinburgh in 1972, in which it was seen as subservient to the 'agricultural-botany' paradigm. To save you time, let me quote: "Dominant [in educational research] is the...‘agricultural-botany’ paradigm, which utilises a hypothetico-deductive methodology derived from experimental and mental-testing traditions in psychology….The most common form of agricultural-botany type evaluation is presented as an assessment of the effectiveness of an innovation by examining whether or not it has reached required standards on pre-specified criteria. Students – rather like plant crops – are given pre-tests (the seedlings are weighed or measured) then submitted to different experiences (treatment conditions). Subsequently, after a period of time, their attainment (growth or yield) is measured to indicate the relative efficiency of the methods (fertilizers) used. Studies of this kind are designed to yield data of one particular type, i.e. ‘objective’ numerical data that permit statistical analysis." What's new? All the educational programs that generate Sir Ken's 'millions of children left behind' are properly scientific. But it is a science unable to realize that its measurements are all being made in Death Valley. Good agricultural botany stipulates tight boundary conditions: contextual effects must be neutralized. Even if it's Death Valley. Good science, ruined lives - is this what is meant by irony?