Objective Research Isn't Used When Determining Educational Methods

By Rosemond, John | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Objective Research Isn't Used When Determining Educational Methods


Rosemond, John, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The media reported "new" research findings to the effect that rewards often backfire, and self-esteem is not the wonderful, uplifting personal attribute once thought. As a result, schools are rethinking their teaching and classroom-management philosophies.

Wrong. Research showing that rewards often backfire, and revealing the dark side of self-esteem has been available for some time. This supposedly "new" stuff illustrates the disconnect between research and practice in American education. Educational methodology is more driven by fad than fact.

Was objective research done to verify the efficacy of the so- called "Open Classroom" before that particular philosophy captured America's schools in the early 1970s? No. Somebody sold an idea to a bunch of education bureaucrats, and millions of dollars of the taxpayers' money was wasted as a consequence. How about Outcome- Based Education? Again, the research done to validate that particular flop was of the sort my experimental-methods professor would have used to illustrate sloppy research methods. And, again, millions of dollars, etcetera. That's been pretty much the story of American education "reform" for 40 years.

For almost two decades, research done by people like Roy Baumeister of Florida State University has shown, as conclusively as social-science research is capable of showing, that high self- esteem is associated with anti-social behavior. Think, for example, bullying. It appears that the higher one's self-regard, the lower his regard for others. People with high self-regard believe themselves to be entitled. What they want, they believe they deserve to have.

The functional attribute is one that went "out" with the rest of the bathwater in the 1960s: humility and modesty. People who are humble pay attention to you. They try to figure out, in any situation, what they can do to help you and make you feel comfortable.

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