Creating an Educational Paradigm Centered on Learning Through Teacher- Directed, Naturalistic Inquiry
Robert J. Marzano
Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory
One of the constants within education is that someone is always trying to change it. Yet many seemingly powerful change-oriented innovations are short-lived. Cuban ( 1987) has chronicled the fate of a number of educational innovations over the last three decades. Some of the more visible ones that have not endured include: programmed instruction, open classrooms, the Platoon System, differentiated staffing, and flexible scheduling. An important question relative to these defunct innovations is "Why did they fail?". All seemed quite logical at their conception. Many were researched based. The answer proposed by Watzlawick, Weakland, and Fisch ( 1974) is that an innovation within any system must not challenge the existing paradigms of the system. If it does, then the innovation must be accompanied by a paradigm shift--the introduction of a new paradigm that supports the innovation. As shall be explained, a paradigm within a social system is represented by a set of beliefs about how the system operates, or as Deal and Kennedy ( 1982) noted, the paradigms within a social system are found in the culture of that system. Any proposed educational innovation, then, must fit within the existing beliefs about education or it will not endure. From this perspective, the failure of at least some of the innovations on Cuban's list can be explained in terms of their lack of a concomitant paradigm shift. They simply did not fit within the predominant educational culture, and no new paradigm emerged that supported them.
Banathy ( 1980, 1984) has noted that education is currently organized around three paradigms, or three sets of beliefs. One paradigm views education from the broadest institutional level. The institutional para-