by Stephen Downes
Mar 10, 2016
The headline is definitely a mismatch for the content of the article. In a nutshell, the author argues that if he were a lawyer or physician, consulting fees could be hundreds of dollars a session, and as an author, he might be paid well by magazines, but as an academic, he gets nothing for writing or reviewing for academic journals. Meanwhile, as we all know, publishers charge substantial fees for these articles and pay their CEOs millions of dollars. Is the solution to "just say no"? Not exactly. "We should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do," writes receive $200K or more a year. Is he ready to give that up in order to be paid on a case by case basis? Probably not. Academics are paid for the academic work they do, and paid very well. So that's not the problem. Indeed - maybe if the public threatened to stop paying academics unless they published in open access journals, maybe they wouldn't be so blasé about simply handing over public goods to
pirate private publishers.
We get this sort of sentiment a lot. It's the thinking behind initiatives like the Campbell Collaboration which postulate that innovation in education should be (more or less) completely evidence-based. So here we have "NPR’s Eric Westervelt talks with Harvard education researcher Tom Kane about how and why American education research has mostly languished in an echo chamber for much of the last half century." First of all, who cares that it's a Harvard education researcher? Second, what do they mean by "American educational research"? It's not like there's one big monolith. But most significant is the idea that "The point of education research is to identify effective interventions for closing the achievement gaps that Coleman observed and ensuring that that information is usable." Well - no. It's a ridiculous proposition, the idea that lack of access to the same education rich people have can be solved like it were a disease or illness. What do they think, that we use the education of Eton as a baseline, and if everybody gets that then we're done? I'd like to do rather better than that.
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