What is an Empirical Educator?

Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Apr 10, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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I think the phrase 'empirical educator' is clever marketing and a not-bad attempt to capture the ideas of "efficacy, evidence-based, research-backed, data-informed, etc." under a single rubric. Philosophically, I am also an empiricist, in the classical sense (as compared to, say, 20th century empiricists, also known as logical positivists, or even its 20-21st century alternative, constructive empiricism). So maybe there's something interesting here. What we get is a "taxonomy of levels" (naturally, because the taxonomy of levels is the apex of education research). And (sorry) not a very good one, classifying between intuitive, mindful, meta-cognitive and social empiricist educators. These may be different ways of being teachers, but they are not different ways of being empirical. I think that if you're going to appropriate a term with hundreds of years of history behind it, you should do so more literately.

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