A pragmatic approach

The following is the abstract of a paper by Graham Badley published in the European Educational Research Journal 2(2): 296-308: ‘The Crisis in Educational Research: A pragmatic approach.’ Can you rewrite it?

This article first identifies and discusses four main causes of the crisis in educational research. These are summarized as false dualism, false primacy, false certainty and false expectations. False dualism is the apartheid that divides positivist and constructivist researchers, with positivists believing in an objective reality and constructivists arguing that reality is a social construction. False primacy is the view that the positivist paradigm has come to dominate research to the detriment of more open, pluralistic and critically reflective approaches. False certainty is the argument that in an increasingly complex and uncertain world, researchers have retreated to a reactionary position in order to shore up the dominant paradigm. False expectations is the case that governments, especially, are demanding more evidence-based research in order to provide urgent solutions to educational problems. The second part of the article shows how taking a pragmatic approach may help us resolve some of the difficulties identified. For example, pragmatists would not privilege any one paradigm or methodology over another but would argue that both science and constructivism offer different sets of tools for investigating different aspects of the world. This also means that pragmatists see inquiry not as discovering what is really out there but as offering more or less useful descriptions to meet our particular needs and purposes. The third part of the article argues that pragmatism is not an alternative model of research but is more a working point of view or a perspective which is admittedly modest and, so pragmatists think, appropriately fuzzy. What a pragmatic approach to research actually leads to, through reflection, is a kind of useful if temporary equilibrium amongst the community of inquirers. Part of this approach is the rejection of the idea that scientific research can be used with certainty to specify educational practice. All it can provide is possible lines of action.  

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