Monday, July 20, 2015

Cultural Evolution of Ed Reform Resitance

Sociology's reliance on self-referential proof texting is the anti-thesis of hard-science's experimental methods.  Modern tools like multi-level selection theory, cliodynamics and cognitive evolutionary neuro-science provide those who are interested a chance for rigor and non-circular tests.  

In my field (education reform) if you insert multi-level selection theory into educational change problems you wind up with a model for the cultural evolution of educational reform resistance.  The formulation is superficially simple: the grouping(s) of institutionalized education has coalesced with a strong enough moral mission, robust enough rituals/practices, and successful-enough freeloader solutions, etc. to function as an adaptive group.  The large-group orientation is characterized by universalizing tendencies and out-group inclusion.  This is often represented by the social equity side of education.  The small-group orientation is characterized context/demographic specific foci.  This is often represented by the academic & vocational side of (charter/private) education. 

Tension between these two orientations is complex due to similar adaptive benefits for each orientation.  Social equity/justice wins for a time as the problems of inequality rise in importance.  At other times academic/vocational specialization wins out:  Sometimes niche solutions are both easy to envision and locally implement!

Reform resistance is a fundamental character of adaptive groups.  In education, it is also a spandrel of  high frequency large-group - small-group orientation cycling.  Context-invariance is a natural byproduct of in highly dynamic (high-pressure) selective environments.  Thus, educational groups have evolved traits which survives orientational changes.  The reproduction, refinement and expression of these traits represents the education's cultural evolution.

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