from the teacher and the school to the student.Several years ago, one of my doctoral students returnedto the university from a morning spent supervising a studentteacher in a local middle school. She burst into my office,upset about what she had witnessed in a seventh-grade socialstudies classroom. After lecturing for a few minutes, theteacher had told the students to read the next section of thetext and to ask him questions if there was anything in the sec-tion that they wanted to learn more about or discuss as a class.Most of the students sat quietly at their desks, some appar-ently reading the text, others just looking around the room.Some did homework for other classes, and a few studentswhispered quietly with each other. This went on for 35 min-utes of the 50-minute class period. After the bell rang and thestudents left the room, the doctoral student asked the teacherwhy he had let the students just sit there, some students work-ing on other classes, others doing nothing at all. The teacherjust pointed to a sign taped on the wall at the back of the class-room that read, “When a student is ready, a teacher will teach.”The doctoral student said she thought the sign should read,“When a teacher teaches, a student will learn.” I felt sad forthe students in that seventh-grade classroom, but I felt goodabout the teachers the doctoral student would train.Scientific Research Devalued or IgnoredUnlike most professions in which practitioners’tools are thor-oughly field-tested to ensure they are effective and reliablebefore they are implemented on a widespread basis, educa-tion has a long history of adopting new curricula and teachingmethods with little or no empirical evidence of effectiveness(Grossen, 1998b; Spear-Swerling & Sternberg, 2001). Conven-tion, convenience, dogma, folklore, fashion, and fad—moreso than the results of scientific research—have all influencedtheory and practice in education over the years (Carnine, 1992;Gersten, 2001; Vaughn & Damann, 2001). In recent years, thegeneral lack of interest in applying the results of research toclassroom practice has been replaced in some education cir-cles by a distinct distrust of empirical research altogether(Sasso, 2001). In addition to this antiscience sentiment, somedismiss objective evidence as irrelevant to the issue at hand;others simply invent data to support their viewpoints.Antiscience.Some educators contend that science is anantiquated and mechanistic approach to knowledge genera-tion based on a misguided empiricism of arbitrary “variables”that no longer fits the more sophisticated, postmodern under-standing of teaching and learning (Gallagher, 1998; Heshu-sius, 1982; 1986; Poplin, 1988b; Skrtic, Sailor, & Gee, 1996).Supporters of this view believe that quantitative methods thatrely on logical positivism should be replaced by the qualitativemethodologies of deconstruction and discourse (Danforth &Rhodes, 1997; Elkind, 1998). Their philosophy can be summedup as follows: There is no need to conduct those artificial andmanipulative experimental comparisons any more; we canjust talk about it.
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- The Journal of Special Education, EDUCATION VOL. 36/NO., SPECIAL EDUCATION VOL.