A number of my professors have told me that one of my goals while pursuing my PhD is to become a “discerning consumer” of educational research. This has not been easy an easy concept for me. I usually find myself getting pulled in by the matter of fact statements, the reasonable tone, and overall the generally positive aim of the subject matter. Here are researchers and scholars who are trying to improve education, who are trying to discover ways to make instruction more effective and learning more engaging. They could be doing a lot worse things with their time and energy – who am I to criticize their methods, their framework, or the reasoning behind their conclusions?
I’m going to duck that question by instead telling you what I admire about most educational research. I admire the generative spirit behind it. The further I get in my graduate program, the more I admire the type of desire that educational research represents – the desire to generate new ideas and perspectives that stimulate continuous reflection and change. I feel like I’m learning to be a more discerning consumer of research but even picking apart “poor” research is a learning opportunity I’m beginning to value. I guess overall I’m glad at least to be forming opinions about collective approaches to educational thinking that I really didn’t possess before entering the program. This feeling is in keeping with my desire to be more generative in my activities, my engagements, and my outlook. Shaping my more knowledgeable self in the context of a community of learners means I also have to contribute, not just consume. In this way I applaud those who have found in themselves the energy and drive to generate contributions we can all consider, if only to know a little more about which contributions I could be making myself.