To the Editor:
Sam Wineburg, in his satirical essay about educational research (“Maintaining the Vitality of Our Irrelevance,” April 6, 2005) is long on problem-listing, short on solutions. And the caricatured nature of his piece tends to overstate and distort the issues in the field.
Several efforts over the years have addressed the problems in preparing educational researchers that Mr. Wineburg cites. These include Action Research at Teachers College, Columbia University, decades ago; the work of Betty Ward and associates at the Far West Laboratory that involved researchers and practitioners in ethnological studies; and the teacher-as-researcher projects at Michigan State University.
Even in Washington, there was a time, at least when I was there, when officials of the American Educational Research Association met with officials of practitioner organizations to collaborate on research needed, how it could be carried out, and how recommendations might be disseminated and implemented, involving all stakeholders.
These efforts and others need to be reviewed, keeping in mind how they might be adapted to current needs. One is reminded of the adage that those who don’t know history continue to repeat the same mistakes.