Fuzzy research

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“The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

~ Thomas H. Huxley (1825 – 1895) (From bob@LakesideAdvisors.com)

Eduhonesty: If we want evidence that education is no science, all we have to do is notice the number of administrative hypotheses that cannot be slain by ugly facts. The hypothesis did not pan out? The teacher must have done the experiment badly. The children did not improve? The instruction must have lacked rigor. The scores are stagnant? The teacher must have failed to scaffold and differentiate for the different levels of learning in the classroom.

If the teacher points out that almost no student in the classroom can actually read the book the district purchased, he or she may get a lecture on the need for increasing rigor.

Nowadays when I hear the word “rigor,” my mind silently tacks on “mortis.” (Latin: rigor “stiffness”, mortis “of death”) One of the recognizable signs of pie-in-the-sky curricula: Death of learning caused by inappropriate new strategies that incorporate irrational expectations, eliminating the pedagogical flexibility needed to help many students learn.

(If your students are newly arrived in the U.S. and are unwilling to converse because they are sensitive to their language deficits, obligatory activities that require verbal sharing aren’t the best — or even a particularly rational — demand.)