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Forum on Public Policy Online, v2008 n2 Sum 2008

In this paper, I take the position that in order for education policy makers and teachers to reform teaching and learning, they must be good consumers of education research. Good consumers of education research understand that education is a complex endeavor and as such resist accepting findings that simplify or complicate teaching and learning. A second position maintained in this paper is that influences on teaching and learning are holons, a term coined by Koestler (1996). There are several categories of holons; education is considered a social holon. All holons are influenced and governed by their own sets of rules. Within the social holon of education exists other social holons such as policy and students. In order to understand the universe of education as a complex endeavor, education researchers, policy makers and teachers must make explicit (acknowledge) the tensions (mitigating factors) between and amongst holons. Acknowledging tensions (social holons) is to respond to the influences of each holon to include the individual student. As a consequence, the interplay between who a learner and teacher are and the influencing contexts they are constantly having to negotiate in and out of the classroom on a daily basis are made explicit. Education research and policy based on the notion of cause and effect (linear) reduces adaptations and evolutions of students and teachers to simple and mechanistic human beings, ignoring the myriad of daily changes they go through. In other words, the complexities of teaching and learning are oversimplified. When tensions are not created, acknowledged or appreciated by policy makers, there can be no ebb or flow, and as such, there can be no change.

Descriptors: Educational Research, Educational Policy, Research Utilization, Institutional Characteristics, School Culture, Subcultures, Difficulty Level, Teacher Characteristics, Student Characteristics, Instruction, Learning

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Author: Martínez, Alejandro J. Gallard


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