chapter  6
Purposes of Research: The Concept of Instrumental Rationality
Pages 31

In a democratic context teachers decide what needs to be learned in their classes, how such experiences might contribute to sophisticated thinking necessary to democratic citizenship, how to help children learn it, and how such learning might then be assessed. In a positivistic system we know that the quality of our teaching and student learning will be tested and measured even if it is never clearly specified what exactly constitutes the purpose of testing. Even if the tests serve to fragment, narrow, deflect, and trivialize the curriculum, we still must use them because accurate scientific measurement takes precedence over curricular considerations. This positivistic obsession with measurement, exemplified by the basics talk and the discourse of top-down standards, forces us to assume for the sake of testing efficiency that there is a specific body of knowledge to be learned, and there are correct methods of teaching and learning it.