Former special education department chair at the University of Virginia, James Kauffman has been on the front lines of this skirmish for a good part of his career.
According to Kauffman
, "science has been neglected and abused in education too often in favor of pseudo-science, whereas a real science of education is our best and only hope for our childrens' future.
In this book, Kauffman
shows readers the stark differences between the two, and notes how sadly, great breakthroughs in research-based programs like Direct Instruction are ignored in favor of trendy oddities like Discovery Learning and Whole Language, approaches that have been proven to fail in repeated trials.
I have long been an admirer of Jim Kauffman's work as a scholar, researcher, and policy analyst.
is a master of language and one of the very best, most insightful thinkers in our field.
More than any professional I know, Jim
has engaged the discourse regarding seminal educational issues in a way that is rational, thoughtful and constructive.
Aside from his
amazing writing and conceptual skills, one of his
greatest contributions is in teaching us how to think critically about educational practices that sound good but in fact are damaging to our interests as a society and to the youth and families who must abide them.
In this very interesting book, he
refers to the era of "magical thinking" about education and how this system of advocacy purports to solve the myriad problems that continue to plague delivery of quality instruction and the achievement of positive educational outcomes for our children and youth.
The list of what we know, based on the sort of scientific evidence that Jim
so articulately presents in this book, goes on and on.
The tragedy is that so many of today's K-12 students are not exposed to these practices due in no small part to rogue science and its major byproduct--magical thinking.
Toward A Science of Education provides us with a foundation and template for creating a Science of Educational Practice.
It is our best hope for salvaging many of our distressed schools.
A major tenet of such a science would be the promotion and adoption of policies and decision-making processes that are based on solid, scientific evidence whenever possible.
We know a tremendous amount regarding how to create effective schools, but as Jim Kauffman
has noted in other venues, the gap
between what has become known scientifically through solid research and that which is applied is often decades wide.