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Educational Crises and the Scramble for Usable Knowledge

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Author(s): Zachary Stein

Journal: Integral Review
ISSN 1553-3069

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 355;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: developmental psychology | education | post-modern global society | quality control | usable knowledge.

ABSTRACT
Quality-control efforts in the field of applied developmental psychology arejust beginning. In this paper I set these efforts in a larger context to frame theirsignificance and guide their direction. I argue that the challenges arising in the currentpost-national constellation are best understood as educational crises. The task demands ofthe global problem space increasingly outstrip available human capabilities. Thissituation is leading to a scramble for usable knowledge about education—defined broadlyas any process intentionally undertaken to promote human development. There is agrowing demand for techniques and technologies that catalyze the transformation ofhuman capabilities; and this demand exceeds available supplies. Education becomes agrowth market as specific types of human capabilities come to be recognized as scarcebut valuable resources. This pressing global demand for innovative educational solutionsand approaches has the potential to systematically distort the production of relevantusable knowledge. I present a set of general quality-control challenges that face the fieldof applied developmental psychology as it strives to meet the demands of a globalizedcrisis-ridden educational marketplace. I argue that the field should overcome temptationsto circumvent peer review processes by going directly to consumers. I suggest adopting ageneral stance of epistemic humility so that research and collaboration are promoted andargumentative strategies that insulate approaches from criticism are avoided. Finally, Iargue that more careful attention should be paid to the normative dimensions ofeducational enterprises, as they involve the creation of new values and raise ethicalquestions about the shape of what life ought to be like.
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