A Science of Education Requires Explicit Goals for Education

In the world of education, science is in fashion.

When people debate policy you don’t often hear them say “everyone knows that thus and so is true” but you frequently hear them say “the data indicate . . .”

Although Americans are boosters of the scientific method, we are missing an essential component of a coherent scientific research program of education — a definition of our goals for schooling. Without that, science applied to education will be inefficient at best, and more likely will be misleading because education research will be guided not by the goals set for the field but more likely by expedience.

If that happens — and it may already be happening — we all get a warped view of what schooling is and of which outcomes of education are important.

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