Educational Studies in Japan
Online ISSN : 2187-5286
Print ISSN : 1881-4832
ISSN-L : 1881-4832
The Paradox of Evidence-based Education: From the Decline of Education to Abandonment of the Theories of Education
ジャーナル フリー

2017 年 11 巻 p. 101-119


In the field of education, evidence means an objective ground for setting or judging an educational policy, plan or method, as an effective means to attain a given political end or educational objective. Evidence-based education has been regarded as a decisive device to pursue the accountability and improve the quality of education by connecting educational researches to educational practices and policies.

Evidence-based education in the UK and the USA, however, has been criticized for distorting the essence of education and the nature of educational practices through its use of evidence-based medicine as a model, and for dismissing the hermeneutical or holistic traditions in educational methodology and the autonomy of the professionals engaged in research or practice. But these criticisms do not seem to be accepted by those who believe in the possibilities of education and believe that its possibilities can be realized by operating evidence-based education rationally. It may be quite difficult to overcome evidence-based education under these circumstances.

In this article I consider the above explanation accounting for espousal of evidence-based education to be not so much a variety of truth as the story, which is provided, with some political interests, for those who intend to acquire the competencies or skills to survive in an era of uncertainty. I pay attention to the consequences brought about recursively by the execution of evidence-based education in the historical-social context which has called for evidence-based education itself. In other words, I take notice of the unintended political or ideological functions that the story as an organized system of meaning performs as the result of repeated and reflexive retelling in that context.

It is important to notice that the notion of evidence-based education has emerged in association with changing views on education. As the education that I call Education II(modern education) is separated from education I (traditional and fundamental education as an ongoing process of call-and-response with the world) in accordance with the rising of commodity exchange and merchandization, the former turns to education to satisfy learners’ needs or desires, which is a prerequisite for evidence-based education. Furtheremore, the execution of evidence-based education, under the present conditions of commodification, merchandization and the transformation of scientific research, has gradually reversed the relation between education and evidence. When education is seen as what can be evaluated with evidence, a new type of education emerges, which I call Education III. Education III, which reduces teaching and learning to visible operations, is very adaptable to interdisciplinary research, hybrid business and the globalized society. But when evidence for accountability turns from the grounds for judging the level of achievement into the proofs of having attained the objectives, the purpose of education tends to become the constructing or disguising of evidence necessary therefore, impoverishing education and leaving it vacuous.

In conclusion, evidence-based education has changed the nature of education, making the acts of teaching and learning superficial and moving toward depriving education of its substance. Moreover, some branches of educational studies may be absorbed into interdisciplinary ones, and in turn the theories of education may be abandoned.

© 2017 Japanese Educational Research Association
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