Beyond ideology: Can education move beyond the traditionalist vs progressive ‘debate’?

Evidence into Practice

Education is now in crisis (and in one sense that’s a good thing)

Thomas Kuhn proposed that science periodically evolved through dramatic paradigm shifts. All scientific theories are open to refinement / revolution. When anomalies (e.g. from empirical evidence) mount up over time, the ‘ruling theory’ only survives where these are small enough to comfortably ignore. However, where the anomalies accrue sufficiently, ignoring them ceases to be a comfortable option. This crisis involves over-throwing affiliations to the accepted world-view and replacing them with a new theory (which eventually forms a new consensus).

This appears to describe some of what is happening in education currently. The constructivist approach to learning was (more-or-less) the accepted paradigm – certainly accepted sufficiently that the regulator insisted on seeing in in lessons. However, the evidence supporting the efficacy of the constructivist approach has come under significant scrutiny – as empirical studies suggesting that minimally…

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