When was the last time you curled up with a good education research journal? How often do you follow the links to original papers and dissertations cited in a news article about what the latest research in your field is suggesting?
For many of us, the last time we read an original piece of education-related research, and not just what someone else was reporting about that research, was…hmm…let’s see. In our teacher education program? In the context of a Professional Development course? As part of a Masters program? It’s likely the case that not many of us run to the journals when we have a few spare moments in the staff room. It’s likely that you won’t find any education journals in your staff room?!
But why not? Shouldn’t one of the hallmarks of living a critical professional life be knowing what/how current research in the field grounds our practice? We’ll go to conferences and listen as speakers refer to the research as a justification for their perspective, and as if it had been delivered from on high in a non-contested, and unbiased way. Many of us, myself included, will read newspaper articles and books that report on a recent research study, and then proclaim the findings as fact at our next social gathering. Sometimes we even confuse the work of journalists for actual research!
But, all of the summaries, the media reports and the distillations presented by keynote speakers are once, twice, sometimes even three times removed from the original research.
So, does it matter that the vast majority of educational practitioners don’t read the original research in their field? And if it does, what is standing in the way of this happening?
As you might expect, I have some opinions of my own relating to things like access, the way that research is actually written, as well as the long-standing divide that exists between the research communities and practitioners in the field. I even have a few ideas on how these issues might be addressed on both sides of that divide.
But on this Friday morning, as the kids emerge from their slumber, I’ll simply throw out the question, and come back to the conversation later today.
What was the last education-related research piece that you read? What prompted you to go to the research? What prevents you from accessing the research more often and more actively? What role does education research play in your own professional life? What role should it play? Have you ever dated a researcher? (Ok, I just threw in that last one to see if you were still with me!)
It would also be great to hear from those of you that are involved in life as a researcher. What perspective do you have on these questions? (Have you ever dated a teacher?)
Should reading (and possibly even writing) research be considered a natural part of life as a teaching professional?