About Me

My photo
I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

10 September 2010

Reason Obfuscates: How the Rationalist Paradigm is Limiting Understanding in Education Research

The rationalist dogma that pervades education research is a methodological throwback to the masculine sciences, ignoring important critical perspectives and smothering the experiences of the individual in attempts to generalise to a larger population. Critical perspectives on education, rather than quantitative measures, allow us to tell the story of the student without judging them in terms of neo-Smithian society, describe their experiences in a rich, holistic manner. Contextualising student experiences in capitalist dogma precludes understanding of their sexual identity, just as teaching within the confines of the patriarchal system destroys the ability of the feminine to emerge in the sciences. The fictions perpetrated in the name of the sciences do no justice to the cultural realities of the individual, nor to the economy of society.
 Instead, we should seek to deconstruct the cultural significance of our subjects, care about our subjects, and remove the stigma of failure in a research setting. 'It matters not that you've established nothing, so long as you've described everything,' says Jones. Likewise, Blanchard states 'The rampant masculinity and demand for evidence in reason in the sciences is contrary to the beautiful intituion and conjecture of the scientist, and thus should be eliminated to improve the discourse between scientist and science." The rationalist paradigm in research demands that we make the attempt to generalise to other situations, despite constructed reality being unknowable and without meaning if it lacks the context of cultural analysis. If a proper postdialectic discourse is to be established in education, we must recognise the futility of the educational rubicon and desublimate the matrilineal tradition in our work.
  It is important to denote the deconstruction of class from the deconstruction of patriarchality in society, and the influence of each on the constructed experiences of the individual. In this there is no room for the objectivist agenda, nor should we pay heed to the crass oversights of science in the textual narrative of the persona. The only way toward a creative hermeneutic in education lies in subsuming the hegemony of rationalism.


  1. In fact, I agree that the rationalist paradigm is bound to harm research in any area where human reasoning is a prime concern. Though, I must add that the rationalist paradigm isn't harmful at all to the more formal side of research, such as computational cognitive science and other things that may or may not be related to education research.

  2. Struggling with how to respond to this... I invite you to look at the labels above, specifically the latter of the two.

    Frankly, I invented the phrase 'rationalist paradigm' as a Kuhnian feminist joke, but I'd love to see your defense for how it harms research in any form, and what in fact you think it is.