ERIC Number: ED200716
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
The Ambiguities of Education Research or Can a Rabbit Catch the Fox?
Heaney, Thomas W.
Research methodologies are "word-specific," that is, they assume frames of reference which do not include all of reality. They are like the "sets" in mathematics in which axioms apply only within certain realities. (Parallel lines do converge, for example, on the horizon; the geometric postulate that says they do not holds only for the set of a flat world.) The idea of a theory of sets in educational research is advanced on the strength of four postulates. These postulates are the following: (1) the aim of social research is self-definition; (2) change characterizes social reality; (3) all investigative initiatives manipulate and transform reality; and (4) appropriate research method compensates for the manipulative/transformative effects of observation by directing its skew in a direction similar to the commonly, self-defined direction of the observed social reality. It follows from these four postulates that research methodology in education evolves out of and has direct applicability to the particular system in which these practices give rise. In the case of adult educators, the choices of the paradigm have become quite limited in scope. The choice and values of the set have been limited by the narrowing practice of adult education in the United States, by the increased institutionalization of adult education with the consequent reduction of adult learning to adult schooling, and by the emerging systemic which controls the previous two practices. This theory of educational research sets can be applied to research on "liberatory education," nontraditional education for adults which is often at odds with traditional education when traditional education tries to include it. It explains why the two educational sets are at odds--their perceptions of reality differ. (KC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A