What Would Happen If…?

The question “what would happen if…?” has focused human inquiry since our species evolved. Those of with a curiosity and the desire to satisfy our curiosity with answers that accurately reflect nature turn to science. Science is based on inquiry that is grounded in observation that is controlled so we can attribute changes we see to the causes we claim. Science is also grounded in logic. We follow certain principles of reasoning to ensure our conclusions are those we should make. Science also seeks to identify and reduce bias.

That last point, avoiding bias, is perhaps the most difficult principle of science to follow. We all have bias, and the worst part of bias is that individuals are usually unaware of their biases. Some biases are easy to identify and work to reduce. Racist and sexist language is an example of our bias, and I am one of many who are trying to reduce our use of such language to both minimize the offence I distribute and to force myself to think about (thus reduce) my biases.

For educators, more difficult that our typical biases are those introduced by our preferred methods of thinking and acting in professional setting. Consider a teaching method that has captured your attention. Like shiny objects, these catch our pedagogical eye and promise great things if we implement the new method with sufficient dedication and vigor.

Once we believe the method will “work,” then any data that we collect will confirm our bias. This reality has been lost on the “data-driven” educators who have been fooling themselves and the constituents that their recommendations are somehow supported by objective and indisputable evidence.

Rather than detailing “the facts upon which they based their opinions,” they should have detailed “the opinions upon which they based their facts.”