James C. Wilson: The Intellectual Arrogance of So-Called Reformers

James C. Wilson reflects here on the intellectual arrogance of people who know nothing about education but decide they should reinvent it. The list of the arrogant would include certain foundations and philanthropists, certain legislators and other elected officials, and a long list of sheltered think tanks.

They all went to school so they think themselves qualified to redesign it. They never performed surgery, so they stay out of the operating room. But they do not hesitate to tell teachers how to teach.

He begins:

“Individuals with expertise in engineering, medicine, and business believe their achievements entitle them to think their area of knowledge extends outside their profession. The recommendations that they make in subjects outside their area of expertise are examples of misplaced intellectual arrogance. Achievement in a particular field takes numerous years of study and many years of direct professional experience in that specific field in order to develop a truly knowledgeable level of understanding. It is arrogant, even for people with great personal achievement, to honestly believe they have a significant understanding of complex issues outside of their field of education and professional experience.

“This intellectual arrogance has never been demonstrated more clearly than in recent pronouncements concerning education in America. Brilliant people in diverse fields outside of education feel perfectly comfortable making judgments and policy recommendations about education that impacts millions of students as well as educational professionals. Their audacity is appalling and their ignorance is inexcusable. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have announced their goal to prepare 80 percent of American high school students for entrance into universities. Eli Broad, another billionaire, gives money to school districts with the clear expectation that they will implement his business-based plans…Similarly, mayors have their own ideas about how to improve student achievement, notably without any substantive research to support them. George Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy used testing to determine the success of schools, however testing in itself, has not provided solutions to educational achievement. Arne Duncan and President Obama pushed merit pay and charter schools when substantive research does not support either of these policy initiatives. Trump’s DeVos hasn’t a clue about educational research as her feeble efforts have ably demonstrated. The advocacy for these already repudiated initiatives reflects a lack of understanding of the ultimate impact on students and educational professionals.”

from sarah http://ift.tt/2tA4xj4

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