Further thoughts about evidence in education

positivism

Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.

G. K. Chesterton

Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things, they were in them, in all of them.

Hermann Hesse

I reached some tentative conclusions about evidence in education in my last post. One of the criticisms I keep coming up against is that my thinking is ‘positivist’ and therefore either limited or bad, depending on the biases of the critic. To understand this criticism we need to briefly explore some conceptions about reality, or ontology. Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being and reality, and if you stare at it for long enough it will melt your eyes! And any thinking about ontology also butts up against epistemology: the study of what constitutes valid knowledge and how we might go about obtaining it. If your nose has started to bleed in response to all this arcane vocabulary, don’t worry – you are not alone. For my own benefit as much as anyone else’s I’m going to attempt to simply matters by contrasting the methods of the scientist (positivist) with those of the detective (interpretive).

Read more on The Learning Spy

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