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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How To Tell Good Science From Bad In Education    by Daniel Willingham order for
When Can You Trust the Experts?
by Daniel Willingham
Order:  USA  Can
John Wiley & Sons, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'People believe lots of things for which the scientific evidence is absent,' writes Daniel Willington in the introduction to When Can You Trust the Experts?: How To Tell Good Science From Bad In Education. While in some situations that doesn't present a big problem, following faulty beliefs in the classroom can lead to flawed outcomes and a poorly educated child.

As anyone who has been involved in education knows, over the past fifty years a number of flawed innovations have been tried in U.S. classrooms with less than satisfactory results.

The problem is really quite simple. Administrators and teachers have been hard pressed, if not totally incapable, of separating the wheat from the chaff. Harassed by parents and disgruntled politicians who see millions of dollars being spent on worthless panaceas that will supposedly improve the plight of American education, these educators grasp at any new approach as the lifesaver that will turn things around.

Unfortunately, in all too many instances the educational quackery and nostrums were nothing more than a costly bust that did little to improve the plight of the young people who were falling further and further behind.

In this book Willingham offers a solution for those who must sift through the information overload and decide what new programs are really worth considering for classroom implementation.

He shows how to clear away the verbiage and isolate the actual claims a new innovation makes. What exactly is the claim suggesting a teacher do and what specific set of outcomes are promised?

Next, how does one trace the new idea to see who has actually created it and is there any real research behind it that indicates it will work? What evidence is offered and does it square with your own experience?

Finally, assuming the innovation is more than just smoke and mirrors, is it one that will fit with what the person hopes to achieve in the classroom. In other words, this may be an excellent idea BUT NOT for your school.

Well worth reading for educational decision makers or those who must live with decisions made by these folks, this book suggests ways of questioning the process of adopting new curriculum so changes have the intended results of better educating our young people.

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