Philosophy of Education: Essays and Commentaries

By Hobert W. Burns; Charles J. Brauner | Go to book overview

knowledge as possible. Debate boils down to rival hypotheses as to the indirect consequences of the proposed program. The truth as to what the consequences will be is quite hypothetical. The accepted hypothesis is tentative, subject to revision as the actual consequences substantiate or invalidate the predictions. If an hypothesis stands testing, it is proclaimed to be true; it is useful in the progress of knowledge.

In a problem situation, the right choice is the best alternative in view of the anticipated consequences. In choosing, we would want accurate historical evidence about the possible trends of various alternatives; we would want relevant scientific information which seemed to have the greatest predictive validity. But, in so far as the circumstances are unique and particular, our anticipations are highly conjectural.

Nevertheless, we must choose and we must act. The energy found in the compelling human desire for certainty before we act needs to be channelled into discovering historical trends and scientific information. We must choose and act, because as it has frequently been pointed out, to make no choice is to make a choice in favor of the status quo. That is, it is a choice to let someone else do it for us. There are many, many people to do the job; but they are apt to be eager and inept. The yardstick, the score card, the ideal, and the hypothesis are tools the professional educator may use to evaluate education and to improve instruction; and he should have no reluctance to go in and win. In such a situation, the overarching value judgment is that it is better to solve our problems than not to solve them and it is better to solve them better, than worse.


The Merit Plan: Boon or Bane?

Hobert W. Burns*

If teachers, as an organized group, have driven home any single point to the public that supports the entire educational enterprise, that point is that teachers are underpaid. Indeed, the concept "teacher" almost tautologically implies the concept "underpaid" in the mind of the public.

It is a truism, of course, that teachers are underpaid: and for specification instead of generalization the reader is referred to his journal of opinion, his journal of number, or his newspaper.

Yet, with a philosophic perversity that may be reminiscent of ivory tower days, we should like to dismiss for the time being the question of "how much money" and, by the application of Occam's Razor, consider merely the question of "how."

With philosophic detachment, then, we suggest that the real issue in the determination of teacher salary schedules is not one of how much but one of how to pay teachers.

____________________
*
Reprinted by permission from The Educational Forum, XXVI ( May, 1957), 443-451.

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