What does “Where’s the research?” really mean?

Often when I talk to educators, they tell me about some exciting, wonderful sounding program they’ve started in their classroom. Unfortunately, the next sentence goes something like, “But my principal/superintendent saw the kids working happily away, buzzing with excitement and constructive collaboration. I got called in and told to stop it. I tried to defend it, but he/she said – where’s the research that shows it’s effective?”

Ah yes, the death knell for anything that looks fun in the classroom – “where’s the research?”

This question is almost always punitive and/or a stalling tactic. If we actually believed in research about what helps students learn, school would consist of art, music, service-learning, peer mentoring, recess, chess, rich libraries full of high-interest books, and heath and nutrition support.


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