Reaction to Kuhn’s

Structure of Scientific Revolution

 

 

            I am writing my reaction to Kuhn as I am reading. There are things that I need to put into words before I truly ponder them. I feel that my first instinct or impression needs to be recorded. This will also enable me to truly assess my thought process and to see how my feelings may change or evolve the more I am exposed to different ideas.

            My first reaction to this book is confusion and agreement at once. Although the text is hard to understand the supplemental material helps me greatly understand the material that I am reading. I also feel like I am right in the middle of what Kuhn is describing. On pages 18-19, Kuhn talks about the new generation of a paradigm and how members converting to the new paradigm cause there to be a division of those involved. This leaves the “older” generation clinging to their views. “Those unwilling or unable to accommodate their work to it must proceed in isolation or attach themselves to some other group.”

            The paradigm shift that I am living through is the need for and the place of technology in education. I can sit back and see both generations in this shift. This analogy makes me think of a particular individual that is involved in this shift as a member of the older generation. My frustration level is so high concerning him. He is good at what he does, but potentially could be so much better or could enhance student learning if he could see the benefits the role of technology could play in his class. He is so against the use of computers that he doesn’t want one in his room for any reason. The administration had to force him to have on last year by insisting that he use the “Accelerated Reader” program. This did show him a benefit of the program, but he is not the type of person who likes to be “told” what to do. This made him even bitter about accepting this paradigm. He is one that I don’t know if we will ever to convert. I know that we cannot expect 100% buy in, but he is particularly challenging for me because I truly feel that his students could benefit from incorporating technology with his knowledge. I know that this is solely my opinion, but strong feelings on a topic is essential in being a change agent in a shifting a paradigm.

            As with any new idea facts are needed to back them up. People are not generally ready to jump on the bandwagon without evidence to back it up. This is especially so in the field of education. Teachers are at a constant level of frustration with “experts” who seem to know how educators need to “change” to better educate students. These “experts” seem to come in and out of our lives trying to tell us what to do, and then they leave us to do the work. Then the next year another expert comes around with yet another brilliant idea that we are supposed to follow along like a puppy. It is no wonder that it is hard to get educators behind a paradigm shift. Ideas are constantly being pushed off on them without even time to process or digest the material presented before it is discarded and something else is taking its place. Educators simply go with the motions instead of getting behind a movement. These feeling of educators are easy to understand. Educators feel insulted when all the hard work and time that we put forth is constantly put down upon. Everything about education is not broken and “if it is not broken then don’t fix it”. It is extremely insulting when the people behind many of the movements have not stepped in a classroom as a teacher before. How can one walk into a classroom and tell us where we need to improve if they’ve never been there. It would be like us walking into the operating room and telling a surgeon how to perform surgery. We would not know what we were talking about and damage could be done. Our classrooms are our “operating rooms”, and those that are not educated in our field need not to come in and cause damage to occur. The technology paradigm shift is getting support from many educators across the nation. However, this is only the beginning for an entire shift to be successful or complete. There are many more educators that still have to be converted. The conversion process is where the “real” work begins.

            Kuhn addresses the conversion process through his discussion of research. The research is necessary in “helping to solve a few problems that a group of practitioners has come to recognize as acute”(p.23). Kuhn refers to the research as “mopping-up”. “Mopping up operations is what engage most scientists (researchers) through out their career.”(p.24) In order to sell educators and educational supporters on what we are trying to accomplish we have to have factual information to gain their support and interest.

            The information is acquired through the action research studies that we will be conducting. Southeastern is an avid participant in changing the education paradigm in regards to technology. “A paradigm transforms a group into a profession or, at least a discipline.” (p.19) In doing so professional societies are formed as well as academic programs. We are living proof of the shift happening. This is evident through the successful implementation of the change in the current educational technology program. However, the change isn’t stopping there. There is another new program in the works. That is the doctoral program that is in the process of being adopted by the university. In order for a difference to be made people must be behind the idea with support. Southeastern is clearly supporting our “idea.”

            When I entered my “Master’s Program” I did not realize the part I was playing in changing this paradigm. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would make a difference. In the scope of the big picture my efforts don’t make a difference, but in a combined effort with all the other participants we are making a big difference. I myself have changed during my studies. I entered this program just to get an additional area of certification. My position was not guaranteed and I needed a “back up”. The reason I chose educational technology was because I enjoyed working with and on computers. I saw that it would be the way of the future. However, once I began in the program I “bought in” to the plan. I already had the interest and the college classes I was taking really helped me jump on the bandwagon. I am currently still teaching physical education, and I haven’t been in a position to get much experience in the technology field. I have had an additional level of frustration because I wanted so much to get involved after I was sold on the idea and there was no place for me to get involved. The technology coordinator at the school I was teaching was known as a “network nazi”. I am now in a new environment and my help is appreciated. The technology coordinator at the school in which I am now teaching is enthusiastic about my help. She is grateful for the help. We are currently opening school for the first time and there is a lot to be done. She has graciously allowed me to make the school web page, and to assist her in loading software where needed. She is also enabling me to have all the materials I need to complete my research study. It is really amazing to see where I started two years ago and to see where I am right now.

 

            It is really kind of amazing to read this literature and find myself being described. Yet at the same time I share a level of frustration with Kuhn with those around me that haven’t been “sold”. Kuhn sums this concept up when he states that “mopping up” is so fascinating to the researcher that it doesn’t seem like work.

            Kuhn compares research to puzzle solving. Just like with a puzzle the desired outcome is known, but the pieces have to be put together. Those of us that are behind the movement need to arrange for the pieces to be placed. These pieces are arranged through the outcomes of the research studies. One important concept to be remembered when choosing and conducting our studies is “one of the things a scientific community acquires with a paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that, while the paradigm is taken for granted, can be assumed to have solutions.” This is something that we as researchers have to consider. We need to start small and build on what we know. I believe that people will “buy into” our ideas if they are built from the bottom up. The smaller the steps the easier it is for others to “follow” our lead.

            I believe that is where I am right now. I find it hard to understand a lot of what Kuhn says. I believe that that has a lot to do with the fact that this is where I am right now in this process. There are still many aspects that I am still not sure about. The one thing that I have learned through Kuhn’s work is where I am and what role I play in the paradigm shift.

            This has been a real eye opener for me. I believe as I develop in my studies and grow in my role the other things Kuhn discusses will begin to make more sense to me. When I began reading this book and the supplemental literature I was rather lost. Thin I began to see myself and it was amazing to see how I was affected. I became angry because people before have made it so hard for ideas to be accepted. Yet at the same time I was trying to understand concepts I have not yet experienced. During this cycle it became fumy to me that I was so adamants about a concept that I only began to support as an “easy” way out. My reason for beginning this program was not for the “right” reasons. However, in the process I was converted and am seriously considering pursuing the doctoral degree. That is so ironic.

            Although there is a great deal that I don’t understand about Kuhn’s book I am looking forward for the time that is “revealed” to me. I can’t believe that I am actually going to use this book as a future reference in understanding the educator and leader that I am to become. Through this assignment I have seen how much I have grown over the past two years. I am looking forward to the future assignments to see what else I will find out about myself.