In my last post, I wrote about the goal of the Empirical Educator Project (EEP) as getting a critical mass of educators to be "socially empirical":
Socially empirical educators view effective teaching not as an individual art but as a shared pool of knowledge and experience that everyone can learn from and contribute to. They seek out common vocabulary, methods, and standards of proof so that they can learn with their colleagues and raise the collective bar. This is the beginning of disciplinarity.
One way of thinking about the goal of EEP is to create a critical mass of socially empirical educators. They may not all arrive at one shared vocabulary, set of methods, and standard of proof. We will likely need a family of subdisciplines and empirical approaches to handle all the many meaningful contextual differences in education. But if a majority of educators see their work as embedded in a collective effort to learn together about how we can be more effective educators, then we will progress much more rapidly as a sector.
What is the value of doing this? Here again, the EEP founding cohort participants weigh in:
Too often, our conversations about education are weirdly bifurcated. On the one hand, we talk about big problems—helping massive numbers of people improve their economic status, educating a sophisticated citizenry, solving societal equity problems, and so on. On the other hand, we talk about the day-to-day work—picking tools and content, solving a developmental math program at a single college...maybe at most we have consortia working on shared problems within the group. But we only rarely and sporadically talk about the link between solving the local problems and tackling the grand challenges. We don't have a plan for thinking globally and acting locally.
We at e-Literate contend that higher education is too focused on immediate peer groups, convinced that the most value will come from the people whose context is highly similar. There is some logic to that, given that effective education heavily dependent on many contextual details. But we seem to need a statement of common purpose around the educational part of the mission that is at once broad enough to accommodate differences and focused enough to bring together different types of institutions and individual stakeholders that have different strengths and resources to offer.
I won't go so far as to say that EEP can offer that, but we aspire to create a collaborative environment out of which that shared vision can emerge by solving specific problems—acting locally—through collaborations that cross peer network boundaries.