The following is an excerpt from a discussion about the role of politics in educational research. If allowed I hope to post my fellow classmates responses as they further this conversation.
In the political system “what counts as worthwhile knowledge is determined by the social and positional power of the advocates of that knowledge. The link here between objects of study and communities of scholars echoes Kuhn’s (1962) notions of paradigms and paradigm shifts” (Cohen, 2000). Governments place a lot of focus on the education system however, it seems the political swings of new pedagogy that govern our educational system tend to fluctuate to extremes as a means of distracting those attempting to draw attention to greater issues in education like a lack of authentic funding for public school programs. Many of the misguided reformations in education stem from third party research findings whose data is used for guidance in policy reform. Perhaps the style of research taking place in education is more of an ongoing evaluation of the system rather than the diagnosis that lager systemic changes are needed. Morrison provides one definition of evaluation as: “the provision of information about specified issues upon which judgments are based and from which decisions for action are taken”(Cohen, 2000). There is currently a large movement to connect educational research to policy making, which also brings into play the funding connected to educational research. Policy makers believe if research is kept separate from politics it loses much of its intended purpose and becomes a frivolous evaluation of a new set of programs.
On both a macro and micro level education is tied into the political system. On a micro-political level Usher and Scott argue that micro-politics, influence the commissioning of research, the kind of field-work and field relations that are possible, funding issues, and the control of dissemination of the research findings. Morrison suggests that this is particularly the case in evaluative research, where an evaluation might influence prestige, status, promotion, credibility, or funding (Cohen, 2000). In a profession where community opinions weigh heavily one must give the utmost consideration to the politics of the system. All decisions in education can and will have longer lasting, further reaching consequences than we can currently predict with any accurate measure. A continual evaluation of the system and the persistent reinvention of the system can only work to provide thoughtful feedback and hopefully some guidance in assessing academically sound teaching practices.
Cohen, Louis, Manion, Lawrence & Morrison, Keith. Research methods in education.
London; New York: Routledge/Falmer, 2000