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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Kuhn, education and paradigms

In the literature in instructional technology, I often see the shift from a behavioural view of education to a cognitive view of education referred to as a paradign shift akin to what Thomas Kuhn described (see Kuhn, 1970). About two months ago, after a professional development session orgnized by our student association, I was speaking with this professor in Adult Education here at UGA and he told me that Kuhn felt that education didn't have the requisite things for a paradign shift to actually occur and that those in education who cited Kuhn's work were taking his ideas out of context.

Sparked by this notion, I ordered up the third edition of of Kuhn's famous (?infamous?) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions from Amazon. In an e-mail that I received from this professor, he said:

Kuhn's response to critics and confusion over the concept of paradigm and what that entails...He offers disciplinary matrix as one alternative and discusses specific dimensions. The question for Kuhn was on the nature of science and its development and in the post-script, among other issues, he encourages others to explore his thesis as it applies to other fields... Do his criteria for what constitutes a paradigm and shift fit the field of education?
Personally, I'm having a little difficulty with this (which is why I am posting about it in this forum). Kuhn writes that he "concludes with a brief discussion of two recurrent reactions to [his] original text, the first critical, the second favourable, and neither, I think, quite right" (p. 207). The second one that he is talking about is "a number who have taken pleasure from it have done so less because it illuminates science than because they read its main thees as applicable to many other fields as well. I see what they mean and wold not like to discourage their attempts to extend the position, but their reaction has nevertheless puzzled me" (p. 208). Kuhn feels that "though scientific development may resemble that in other fields more closely than has often been supposed, it is also strikingly different" (p. 209).

So, it would appear that Kuhn, while encouraging people to consider his notion of a paradigm shift in other fields, at this stage had not seen convincing evidence that it actually existed in fields other than science. At least that is what I take away from this. Are there any others out there that have a different view of the world and word of Kuhn?

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