Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 1995 Issue »

    Issues of Misrepresentation in Scholarly Discourse

    A Meta-Analysis of Educational Criticism

    By Jesse Goodman
    The representation of other peoples' ideas is an enduring predicament of scholarly discourse. As the Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin notes, texts of people's writings are read most profitably by viewing them as living mixtures of varied, and at times opposing, voices that lend themselves to interpretation, insight, and knowledge generation (Clark & Holquist, 1985). Although this type of textual analysis has an honorable tradition within educational scholarship, it carries with it the dilemma of misrepresentation. That is, rarely would a reader "hear" the exact same voices as the author of a given text. For example, John Dewey's (1938/1963) Experience and Education is an effort to clarify many of his ideas that he felt had been misunderstood by his colleague, William Kilpatrick, and other progressive educators of the time.

    In a response to my article, "Change without Difference: School Restructuring in Historical Perspective,"1 that appeared in an earlier issue of the Harvard Educational Review, one of my colleagues at Indiana University, Charles M. Reigeluth, along with two other authors, Alison A. Carr and Patrick M. Jenlink, suggested that I was guilty of flagrant misrepresentation of the values and ideas upon which the "third wave" school restructuring movement is based.2 Reigeluth (1987) identifies this movement in the following manner:

    As the one-room schoolhouse, a "first-wave" educational system, was appropriate for what Alvin Toffler (1980) calls a first-wave agrarian society, so our present, second-wave, educational system has a structure and philosophy that were appropriate for a second-wave industrial society. . . . As we enter deeper into a highly technological, rapidly changing, information-oriented society, the present structure of our educational system will become more and more inadequate. A "third-wave" system will provide a quantum leap for meeting the changing needs of our society. (pp. 3, 5)

    In my original critique, I suggested that this movement was based upon a socio-temporal rationale for transforming schools, and that its key principles consisted of social functionalism, efficiency and productivity, individualism, and expertism. As a result, this movement represents a continuation of the same values and ideas that served as the basis of the industrial restructuring of schools that characterized the "second wave" of school reform. My critique argued that although the third wave restructuralists advocate for the transformation of schools, their key principles would likely reify the educational experiences that have dominated our schools throughout this century.

    In their response, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth raise several questions about my analysis and present a list of values and ideas that they claim are the true principles of third wave restructuralists (now called systemic transformationists), which include: social functionalism and human development; empowerment and engaged communities; technology in the service of educational transformation; systematic in the service of systemic and instruction in the service of education; the complex, dynamic, painful process of negotiating transformation; individual needs; and throwing off the constraints of the system. Clarifying the principles of this third wave restructuring movement is extremely important. Based upon the responses that I have received to my analysis in the Harvard Educational Review, there are many educators who share my "misrepresentation." Unfortunately, after reading Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's critical response and much of the recent literature to which they refer, I must reaffirm my original assessment. Although I do not presume to identify the personal values of these particular individuals, I do not find their response to my original critique compelling. It is not the purpose of this reply to prove who is right or wrong. That responsibility is up to the readers. They can determine the principles of this third wave school restructuring for themselves. However, by examining Carr et al.'s objections to and providing a meta-analysis of my critique, this reply will explore several aspects of scholarship that potentially contribute to the problem of representation.

    The Challenge of Representation: Criticisms of the Critique

    As previously mentioned, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's central criticism is that I misrepresented the true principles of the third wave school restructuring movement. In particular, they object strongly to the notion that this movement is based primarily upon social functionalism and expertism. Although they agree that individualism is a key principle of this movement, they disagree with my assessment that individualism has been central to the schooling of our children throughout this century and is ironically responsible for the social conformism found in many schools. Strangely absent from their response is any mention of the values of efficiency and productivity that were central aspects of my critique. They do not deny that these principles are at the core of this movement, and yet they do not include them in their alternative list of values. In addition, these authors disagree with several other comments made in my original critique. Unfortunately, space does not allow for a comprehensive discussion of each and every objection. As a result, this commentary will be limited to those issues most useful in understanding the nature of educational criticism and the problems of representation.

    Identification of an Intellectual Movement

    Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth suggest that the misrepresentation in my critique is due, in part, to drawing together the works of scholars from the diverse fields of instructional development, systems design, and educational technology. Although there were numerous third wave restructuralists mentioned in my article, they took particular exception to the notion that Michael Molenda was part of this movement, and they point out that Bela Banathy is not an instructional designer or educational technologist (even though I never stated that he was). Nevertheless, their comments raise an important question related to the nature of scholarly work. How does one go about identifying an intellectual movement in order to comment upon it? Ludwig Fleck's (1935/1979) classic analysis into the nature of scientific knowledge creation provides some potential insight into this concern. Fleck suggests that scientific thought does not merely progress in a rational process of adding one fact on top of another. Rather, scholars (from similar or diverse fields) form themselves into "thought collectives" that share an interest in and basic assumptions about a given phenomenon; refer to each other's work in the development of their own ideas; and communicate with each other at conferences, seminars, and through academic writings. A "thought collective is a community of persons mutually exchanging ideas or maintaining intellectual interaction [and] . . . provides the special `carrier' for the historical development of any field of thought"(p. 39). Old thought collectives fade away as other scientists form new ones that generate a greater following due to the compelling nature of their ideas and personalities. Fleck's notions of academic work served as the forerunner of Thomas Kuhn's (1970) concept of a paradigm, and were essentially the criteria used in identifying the third wave school restructuring movement.

    My first encounter with "third wave" restructuralism or thought collectives came from students in the Instructional Systems Technology Department at Indiana University who were enrolled in a doctoral curriculum studies class I was teaching. In our discussions of school transformation, these students provided me with the writings of Molenda, Reigeluth, Banathy, and several other individuals mentioned in my original critique. Additional reading came from the references found in these initial papers. As I studied these readings, it became apparent that all of these scholars, whether they are "educational technologists," "instructional designers," or "systemic transformationalists," share an interest in school restructuring based upon a socio-temporal rational for change. Although there are differences between each and every individual, these differences seem minor when compared to their common views and values regarding the nature and restructuring of schools. In addition, the scholars mentioned in my original critique communicate with each other, refer to each others' writings in their own work, often attend conferences together, and publish in similar journals and publishing houses. Recent edited books on this subject, such as those by Reigeluth, Banathy, and Jeannette Olson (1991) and by Reigeluth and Robert Garfinkle (1994), contain commentaries from each of the fields mentioned in my original critique. For example, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth go to some length to distance "systemic transformationalists" from the field of instructional design. It is strange, then, that Robert Morgan (1994), who draws upon this field of study, would be included in Reigeluth and Garfinkle's book. Morgan states:

    Terms like paradigm shift, break-the-mold schools, total quality management, and more have become part of the educational development lexicon. These terms have mostly come from the corporate sector. However, when operationally defined, these terms sound a great deal like the kinds of processes that have been central to the discipline of instructional systems development for the past thirty years. (p. 44)

    This statement is indicative of the close ties between the field of instructional development and the third wave school restructuring movement.

    Most articles that advocate for third wave school restructuring are published in instructional design, educational technology, and systems management journals, and books on the subject are often published by technology-oriented publishers. For example, Reigeluth's (1987) now classic article on "third wave" school restructuring was published in the Journal of Instructional Development, which is published by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Banathy's (1991) book on the use of systems design theory and education and Reigeluth and Garfinkle's (1994) recent collection of papers on this same topic were published by Educational Technology Publications. The themes of technology, instructional development, and systems design are deeply interwoven into the literature on third wave school restructuring. As mentioned in my original critique, the discourse of school transformation contains a wide variety of voices, and many scholars who participate in this conversation were not included in my critique because they approach this concern from very different perspectives. However, the people mentioned in my original critique do represent the essence of Fleck's "thought collective," and thus were selected for commentary. If the respondents wish to separate themselves as systemic transformationalists vis-à-vis other third wave school restructuralists, then it would be helpful for them to articulate the ideas and values upon which they base this claim. At this point, the differences seem either nonexistent or minor matters of degree.

    Different Emphasis

    Another factor that potentially contributes to the misrepresentation of other scholars' work may come from the author and reader placing different emphasis on a collection of ideas. An author of a given text might consider certain ideas most important, whereas a reader of this same text might place greater value on different ideas. The discussion of social functionalism, individualism, and technology in my original critique provides an illustration of this phenomenon. In discussing how I came to the conclusion that these concepts were central to the third wave school restructuring movement, it is possible to illuminate the ways in which authors and readers might come to different decisions about the value of particular ideas in given texts.

    Perhaps Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's strongest objection to my original critique concerns comments regarding social functionalism. These authors protest my conclusion that the third wave school restructuring movement is based upon the notion that the purpose of schooling is to meet the functionalist needs of society. They argue that this movement has a much broader vision, which includes social functionalism but is also rooted in human and civic development.3 In their response, they present several quotes from Banathy and Reigeluth in which they mention their concern for human and civic life. Their implication is that I merely chose to ignore these other values and thus distorted this movement's principles.

    As mentioned in my original critique (p. 4), this literature does contain many "progressive" sounding ideas, and, as quoted in their response, several of these third wave school restructuralists allude to the importance of social, ethical, and human development as goals of this movement. However, these values are referred to within the context of a laundry list of ideas. They are also articulated in the most general terms. As such, they are difficult to take seriously within a scholarly context. After all, who is against an education that doesn't "foster all aspects of human development, including what Banathy refers to as the socio-cultural, ethical, moral, physical/mental/spiritual wellness, economic, political, scientific/technological, and the aesthetic" (Reigeluth & Garfinkle, 1994, p. 66)? In contrast, social functionalism is used as the rationale for the third wave restructuring of schools. As previously mentioned, if there is one principle that unites third wave school restructuralists, it is the view that education needs to be transformed in order to prepare children for the coming "information/technology age."

    Although in the minds of some third wave restructuralists, this "age" includes more than just preparation for functional needs of the society (such as types of work that will be required), as discussed in my original critique, this commitment clearly stands out as paramount in their writings. For example, drawing upon the works of Reigeluth, Lewis Perelman, and Larry Hutchins, Banathy's (1991) rationale for promoting the use of "systems design theory" to transform schools is rooted deeply within this social functionalist vision. In addition, similar to Perelman (1987) and others (e.g., Mory & Salisbury, 1992), Banathy creates an atmosphere of crisis by suggesting that our society is in grave danger if its schools are not restructured in time. "There is an ever-increasing realization that unless we change the course [the structure of schooling], the ship [society] will sink" (Banathy, 1991, p. 6).

    In their response, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth suggest that they and other third wave school restructuralists share with me many of the same values concerning the importance of social democracy and education. However, it is difficult to give much credence to these values when they are merely included in a long list of ideas. If they and others in this movement believe that schools need to be transformed in order to help create a more democratic and caring society, then I encourage them to place their proposals within this context. What is it about our current democracy that leads them to the conclusion that our schools need transforming? Is it the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of our population and the intolerance for this diversity that is growing in many parts of our society? If so, then I would encourage them to discuss these matters and situate their proposals within this context. Perhaps it is the growing disparity between the rich and poor and the lack of power that middle-class workers and those who live in poverty have in our society. If so, I would like to see these individuals address this issue as a basis for changing schools. Perhaps it is the political process itself, the role that excessive wealth plays in distorting the true representation of the people or the lack of substantive political discourse in favor of "sound bites" that disturbs these restructuralists. If so, then I would encourage them to examine this phenomenon as a rationale for transforming our children's education. In what ways do they propose to alter education to make our society more democratic? What political theory do they draw upon in forming their vision of democracy? What discourses related to issues of class, race, and gender do they embrace as a basis for transforming schools and our society? Unfortunately, these questions and concerns do not seem to interest most third wave school restructuralists, as they seem fixated on transforming schools for the information/technology age. It is one thing to declare one's commitment to truth, justice, and the American way (as Superman did at the beginning of each television show), and another to examine our society, its future, and its educational system in light of these values and concerns.

    Similar differences of emphasis between myself and the respondents can be found in our reading of individualism and technology. As Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth point out:

    Transformationists do not focus on the individual to the exclusion of group experiences that build a sense of community. . . . Banathy's value statement, . . . "Developing and maintaining creative and cooperative interpersonal and social relationships are key values in societal life," makes it clear that Goodman's critique is erroneous. (p. 9)

    Once again, comments such as those made by Banathy about the development of community are situated within a laundry list of goals related to school transformation. As such, it was given little credibility in my original critique. Beyond calls for the implementation of "cooperative learning strategies," there are virtually no discussions of collaborative learning, an experience of learning with other people as part of a genuine educational community (Goodman, 1992), in "third wave" school restructuring texts. It is difficult to identify any references to the complexities and challenges of building authentic school communities in this literature, whereas discussions of individualizing instruction (as will be discussed later in this reply) are given significant attention and are often cited as a key principle in this movement's literature.

    Finally, these respondents question my assertion that technology plays a significant role in this movement by pointing out that Banathy rarely mentions technology in his writings. Although it is true that Banathy does not elaborate on technology, and in Reigeluth's latest book (Reigeluth & Garfinkle, 1994) he has dropped the word "technology" from the more common "information/technology age" phrase, one would have a difficult time finding many writings on the third wave restructuring of schools that do not address the importance of technology in our future schools and society. Rarely is there an edited book written about third wave school restructuring that does not contain at least several chapters that advocate increasing our reliance upon electronic technology to educate our children (e.g., Reigeluth, Banathy, & Olson, 1991; Reigeluth & Garfinkle, 1994). It is difficult to accept these respondents' disassociation from electronic technology in this movement. For example, Allan Collins and his associates (1994), in their chapter in Reigeluth and Garfinkle's book, reflect the thinking commonly found in the third wave school restructuring movement:

    A potential stimulus toward reform in schools is the increasing role of technology in every aspect of life outside schools. Work in the real world of offices, factories, laboratories, hospitals, police stations, and supermarkets is becoming dependent on technology, as working adults increasingly do their reading, writing, and calculating in computer environments (Collins, 1991). In schools, where reading, writing, and calculation are primary activities, it makes sense that there should be a strong tendency to import and press into service the tools of the late 20th Century workplace. (p. 71)

    Although in my original article, I recognize the importance of technology in our future lives (pp. 13–14), I argue that workplace tools should not be at the center of our thinking when it comes to transforming our schools or society. Obviously, some individuals within the third wave school restructuring movement, such as these respondents, are beginning to agree with this position. However, to argue, as Carr et al. do, that technology is not a significant aspect of this restructuring effort is, it seems at this time to be wishful thinking. Merely removing the word technology from the socio-temporal basis of their work is not enough to convince this author. Perhaps if these respondents and Banathy would begin to articulate the rationale for removing "technology" from the previous "information/technology age," then their reaction to my critique would be more understandable. If this issue of technology clearly separates these respondents from other third wave school restructuralists, then it would be useful to have this distinction expressed in their work. Finally, it is important to note that although electronic technology is seen as important to most third wave school restructuralists, it was not identified as a "key principle" of this movement in my original article. Both the respondents and I agree that electronic technology is merely a means to other ends, and thus was not viewed as important as the principles of social functionalism, efficiency and productivity, individualism, and expertism.

    It is easy to see why my analysis caused these authors to feel I misrepresented the principles of this third wave school restructuring movement. By including statements about "social relationships . . . in societal life" and the "the nurturing of . . . human development" (p. 496) in lists of third wave restructualists' goals, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth believe that the values of this movement are broader than mere social functionalism and individualism. However, because social functionalism is the rationale for their work and individualism is often cited as a primary concept behind school change efforts, these, rather than other values, were identified as "key principles" in my critique. Until I see this "broader vision" or the community ethos to which Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth refer comprehensively developed as the rationale for and key aspect of transforming schools, I will continue to place little value on them. Similarly, until works that identify the potential limitations of overemphasizing technology in the transformation of schools are included in this movement's literature, it will be difficult to convince me that third wave restructuralists believe otherwise. In reading the works of other scholars, one must make decisions about those ideas that seem to be emphasized versus those that are mentioned in passing. Based upon the respondents' reaction to my article, perhaps the one thing that is clear is our assessment of what it means to emphasize some ideas and not others.

    Missing the Point

    Another possible aspect of scholarship that contributes to the misrepresentation of an author's ideas might be the reader's missing the central point that is being made in a given analysis; that is, although the author is expressing one idea, it is misconstrued by the reader. There were several instances of this phenomenon regarding Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's reading of my critique. Since they seemed to misunderstand my analysis in several instances, they conclude that I misrepresented the third wave school restructuring movement. This confusion is clearly illustrated in these respondents' assessment of my comments regarding the "agenda" of external educational change agents and the philosophy of expertism within the third wave school restructuring movement.

    In their response, Carr et al. suggest that I criticize the third wave school restructuring movement for having a particular agenda (p. 501). They go on to suggest that this represents a contradiction, since I also have an agenda vis-à-vis my work in school transformation. However, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth make a significant error in their statement: I did not criticize this movement for having an agenda, I criticized the content of its agenda. Indeed, as I discuss elsewhere (Goodman, 1994), it is doubtful that there are school change agents without an agenda, or what these authors call their "sensibilities" (p. 501). The problem before us is how knowledgeable are we of our own social and educational agenda, and what role this ideological agenda plays in our work with others involved in school transformation projects. I agree with these authors that agendas, especially those of external change agents, should not be imposed upon schools.4

    Ironically, I am most suspicious of those who claim value neutrality, and many third wave school restructuralists take just this position. Rather than being openly ideological, these restructuralists often situate their ideas within a value neutral, "research says" context. For example, Edna Mory and David Salisbury state that school transformation should be based on "our current knowledge [research] about learning, instructional design, child development, and management practices"(1992, p. 7). Other restructuralists have come forward with the latest research in the field of systems design to help schools prepare for the coming "information/technology age." In reality, these individuals use their ideologies consciously or unconsciously to screen not only the fields of study on which they based their ideas (e.g., instructional design versus curriculum studies, systems design versus democratic theory), but also the specific studies they bring to school transformation projects. Educational change agents are no more protected from political, social, and educational biases than other individuals. By draping their ideas in claims of "scientific neutrality," they amplify the importance of their views, placing teachers and principals in the position of passive knowledge consumer. Although external change agents armed with "research" firmly believe that as long as they are not conscious of any ideological agenda they are neutral and objective, in fact they are merely unconscious. I am pleased to see that Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth have moved somewhat away from their colleagues who still claim that they are value neutral. However, I would encourage them to articulate their "sensibilities" more thoroughly, and to reflect more seriously upon the role these sensibilities play in their work with schools.

    Another illustration of how readers can miss the point of an author is found in Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's protest of my contention that the third wave school restructuring movement is based on an ethos of expertism. They carefully emphasize their rejection of positioning themselves as experts in their work with schools, as they state, "An examination of the relevant discourse on systemic transformation warns of a need for facilitators (not experts) [their parentheses]" (p. 498). They go on to quote themselves in order to support their claim. Based upon these quotes, it seems as if they thought I was referring to a style of interpersonal behavior, that is, presenting oneself to others as "an expert." They make the point that third wave school restructuring change agents should not view and present themselves as "the authority." In general, I agree with their perspective. However, as I examine elsewhere (Goodman, 1994), the potential roles a change agent might play in a given school transformation project are much more complex than implied in their comments.

    Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth do not understand the point I was making in my critique. I was not addressing issues of interpersonal relationships or perspectives of oneself in my article. I was not commenting on the roles that one might possibly assume vis-à-vis others who are involved in school transformation projects. Expertism, as discussed in my article, has more to do with the social location of actors and, most importantly, with issues of espistemology. Specifically, I was referring to individuals located outside of schools who claim to have "specialized" knowledge that is generally unknown to school teachers, principals, or parents that is crucial for school transformation projects to succeed. In this particular case, many in this movement claim that schools cannot be transformed without the knowledge of "systems designers." Although these respondents deny the connection between the third wave school restructuring movement and the ethos of expertism, there are numerous comments throughout their response that indicate the opposite. As the following statements demonstrate, there seems to be an effort to "sanctify" this systems design knowledge: "Understanding systems design and recognizing the power it offers for the transformation of education are prerequisites [my emphasis] for engaging a community in the design of its educational and human development services" (Banathy, 1991, p. 165; quoted in Carr, Jenlink, & Reigeluth, p. 495). "Only if [my emphasis] we individually and collectively learn to understand and apply the systems view shall we be able to . . . redefine education as a social system. . . . Systemic change in education can be realized only if [my emphasis] educational communities all over the world learn to develop a systems view" (Banathy, 1995, p. 57; quoted in Carr, Jenlink, & Reigeluth, p. 500). Expertism, as used in my article, refers to a philosophy that intellectuals who work in "think tanks" or universities should direct school transformation because they possess the unique knowledge necessary to "make it work." As I state in my article, in "canonizing" a body of knowledge and identifying oneself as one of the few people who possess this knowledge, third wave school restructuralists maintain the tradition of expertism (and the power relationships embedded in this ethos) that has existed throughout this century between those who work in schools and those who do not.

    This issue of knowledge is complex and subtle in nature. Obviously, external school change agents must feel they have valuable knowledge and talents that will assist schools in their efforts to transform the education of children, otherwise they would not be involved in such work. However, there is a subtle but important difference between this self-assurance and efforts to identify a particular body of knowledge as indispensable to school transformation. For example, the fields of curriculum studies, educational sociology and anthropology, post-structuralism, women's studies, democratic theory, and certain theories of cognition (e.g., Gardner, 1983) have been extremely valuable in my and my colleagues' work with schools to transform education (Goodman, 1992, 1994). These fields of study have provided us with useful information, perspectives, and even talents in our work with teachers, parents, and administrators. However, we have come to realize that none of these fields of study are what Foucault would call a "regime of truth" (Rajchman, 1985). Although "systems design theory" (or any other body of knowledge) may offer information that can be useful in school transformation, it is not indispensable. The point of my critique was focused on the insistence of third wave school restructuralists that they have knowledge that others involved in school transformation absolutely need (and for the most part do not have) in order to accomplish their goals. This consecration of knowledge was at the heart of my concerns regarding the philosophy of expertism, not the attitude a given external change agent has when involved in transformation projects.

    In summary, one potential cause for problems of representation can be found when the author of a given text makes one point, but the reader of that text places a very different meaning upon it. Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth argue that I misrepresented the third wave school restructuring movement because I suggested they had an ideological agenda when I was commenting on the substance of this agenda. Similarly, these respondents protest my claims regarding expertism. Since systems design theory calls upon system designers to reject acting like experts when working with clients, these respondents stated that I misrepresented this school restructuring movement. However, from my perspective, it is they and not I who missed the point. As previously stated, I was not referring to the interpersonal relationships that exist between school "facilitators" and "clients," but the continuation of a tradition in which individuals who work outside of schools (such as systems designers) make claims about the absolute necessity of their particular body of knowledge vis-à-vis the transformation of our children's education.

    Different Images

    Misrepresentations of a text can also emerge when the reader develops different images of life from an author's writings than the author intended. When reading passages in which the education of children is described, the reader creates pictures in his/her mind that might be very dissimilar from the depiction in the author's mind. This diverse imaging seems to have contributed to Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's assertion that I misrepresented the work of third wave school restructuralists. This phenomenon seems to have occurred most significantly in the respondents' and my images of the interpersonal relationships in schools and use of technology in education.

    These respondents state that I did not fairly represent the value of human relationships or the use of technology that is found in this literature. First, they suggest that my description of educational technology is no longer valid due to recent improvements.5 Rather than limiting the education of children, they claim that technological resources provide students and teachers with a much richer educational experience. They strongly protest my statement that as a result of this reliance on electronic technology, "restructuralists conceptualize an education uncluttered by messy personal relationships" (p. 497). They quote Reigeluth's (1987) declaration that "guides" [teachers] are caring and nurturing people who value social interaction (p. 498).

    However, the main point here is the image of education that emerges from this movement's texts. As previously mentioned, Carr et al. object to my portrayal of an isolated learning environment in which electronic machines are at the center of teachers' and students' lives in schools. They make reference to Ted Frick (1991) and others who, they claim, present a much more accurate portrayal of technology in restructured schools than found in my critique. Given this statement, Frick's description illustrates how I and the respondents create different images of technology and education:

    How might the relationship between students and content change in a restructured educational system? Compared to reading a textbook, students would become more actively engaged in learning by interacting with technology-mediated learning materials. Such materials . . . would give students numerous opportunities to respond and would provide immediate feedback in the form of corrections or additional information. During computer-based simulations, feedback would occur when a student experiences the consequences of his or her actions. Students would have more control over the pace of their learning and spend as much time as needed to master particular learning objectives. The decision of when to move on to subsequent objectives would . . . be determined . . . by the individual student's progress. Students actively engaged with content and experiencing success with it would be more enthusiastic about the subject matter they are studying. . . . Modern educational technologies make individualization of instruction truly possible for the first time. . . . If a mastery learning approach is adopted, then different students would learn at different paces. . . . The goal would not be promotion to the next grade but rather the mastery of educational objectives by each students. The drudgery of record keeping as well as some forms of achievement assessment could be handled by computers. The report card could be replaced by a computer disk containing a detailed history of each student's progress. (pp. 21, 22, 23–24)

    Obviously, in the respondents' minds, this type of description would include a nurturing "guide" or, as Reigeluth (1987) has stated, an "inexpensive assistant" to help students out when they have difficulty meeting a given "objective." They also see in this type of description a rich, interactive educational experience, whereas I see a much different image. The above description is indicative of the lack of personal relationships to which I originally referred. It is a portrayal of teachers and students whose work in school is primarily directed by machines and software. As I suggest in my original article (pp. 10–11), this image is not significantly different from the way in which printed "instructional programs" largely control what teachers and their students do in today's conventional schools.

    Perhaps the source of our different images can be found in our conceptions of what it means to be a teacher. To the respondents, it seems as if teachers can be either "givers of knowledge," or "facilitators of learning" having a largely non-directive role. From their perspective, the former is found in today's schools, while the latter is what they hope will emerge from this school restructuring effort. Because Carr et al. are certain that computers or other electronic tools can "give" knowledge, "direct" students' learning, and "correct" students' mistakes better (e.g., more entertainingly, faster) than teachers, they advocate for this technology. Teachers thus become guides who help students as they work their way through the instructional software programs found on their computers. Although this notion of "guide" sounds progressive (student centered) and a real change from current practices, as previously mentioned, it actually describes what happens in many of today's traditional classrooms that use printed instructional programs.

    More substantive alternatives to teachers as "guides" would be Henry Giroux's (1988) concept of teachers as "transformative intellectuals," Kathleen Weiler's (1988) "feminist teachers," or Mary Belenky and her colleagues' (1986) "connectionist teachers." These authors present portraits of teachers who are intellectually engaged in their subject area(s), the field of education, their students, and the conditions of our planet. They are individuals with knowledge, perspectives, values, and interpersonal talents worth sharing with young people in our society. They are teachers who can inspire young people to become interested in and explore ideas that they had never previously considered important. Similar to the respondents' image, these teachers are caring and nurturing. However, they are not merely concerned with making sure students "feel good." Most importantly, they are committed to developing authentic educational communities in their classrooms. They are determined to know well as many of their students as possible, and to relate the topic of study to their students' lives. In particular, these teachers are concerned with the substance of their students' thinking and ideas. They provide students with opportunities to "find their own voices" as they study a given topic, and also challenge these young voices in order to deepen a group of students' thinking. Images of teachers as "transformative intellectuals," "feminist teachers," or "connectionist teachers" are rich in human relationships. They are images in which conflicts are accepted as natural and resolutions are creatively explored. As mentioned in my original article (pp. 13–14), electronic technology can play a useful role in assisting these types of teachers in their work with students; however, it is difficult to find in the third wave school restructuring literature many images of technology being used in this manner. How might electronic technology improve the work of "connectionist teachers"? How might it encourage more teachers to become "transformative intellectuals"? These are the portraits that are still missing from this movement's literature, and the images that remain have not convinced this author that electronic technology is little more than an entertaining substitute for an disengaged teacher. From this author's perspective, teachers need to be much more than kind, nurturing facilitators or guides. They need to be thoughtful, deeply curious, articulate, and compassionate. Resources and learning tools, whether electronic or not, can be a means to explore and generate information, but we should resist efforts to allow machines and software to replace teachers.

    To summarize, it is clear to see the way in which readers and authors create differing images based upon a common text. To these respondents, using electronic technology as knowledge and feedback giver, and having teachers become guides who help children work through entertaining software packages is an image worthy of implementation. To me, it represents a small and relatively insignificant change from current practices, as discussed in my original article. These differences are perhaps rooted in our disparate conceptions of what constitutes teaching and learning in our elementary and secondary classrooms. Instead of restructuring children's learning around the use of electronic technology, perhaps we should consider how schools can be restructured to help all teachers become "transformative intellectuals."

    Analytical Disagreement

    The final potential cause for misrepresentation to be discussed in my reply is related to honest analytical disagreements between scholars. In exploring issues of complex phenomena such as the education of children and the substance of school reform, it is natural that two individuals can arrive at different conclusions. The literature on school reform is both enormous and diverse, with many competing views. It would be unrealistic to expect that consensus would be reached by all those involved in the study of school transformation. The respondents identify two disagreements with my previous analysis regarding individualism and the cause for school reform failures. The impression given is that these ideas have been misrepresented; however, upon closer inspection, they most likely depict differences in the way people analyze the phenomena that are the focus of study.

    The respondents disagree with my assessment that the ethos of individualism is largely responsible for the way in which schools currently operate, including the "batching" and "sorting" of students mentioned in their response (p. 499). They argue that it is this "sorting focus" that causes the grouping of children into herds and the standardization of their learning experiences. However, one might ask what the ideological impetus is to develop a system of sorting. As I have examined elsewhere (Goodman, 1992), it is our culture's deep roots in individualism that foster these types of schooling practices. Although space limitations prevent a full examination of this dynamic, it is worth noting that the tracking and ability grouping of students during this century represents a conscious effort to "individualize" instruction (e.g., more efficiently meet the individual "needs" of students). In addition, one of the purposes of batching students together and instituting a standardized curriculum and system of assessment in our society is to identify the success of students vis-à-vis their peers. This social comparison and competition is at the heart of individualism. Although these third wave school restructuralists call for the reduction of competition in schools, they suggest avoiding social comparison by further isolating each student's learning experiences (through the use of electronic technology) from his or her peers. By emphasizing the fact that each child will be, for the most part, working at his or her own "workstation" and completing assignments specifically selected for him or her, this movement tries to solve a problem rooted in individualism by finding a solution rooted in this same ethos. From my perspective, a more thoughtful and challenging response to batching, sorting, competition, and social comparisons would be, as previously mentioned, to transform schools in order to create the experiences of collectivist learning and social democracy among students (Goodman, 1992).

    Another analytical disagreement between the respondents and myself concerns the causes of school reform failure. Carr et al. object to my suggestion that ideological principles and not institutional structures largely determine the results of school reform efforts. In particular, they draw attention to my example of the Individually Guided Education (IGE) initiative in the 1970s. As mentioned in the original article, I concluded that this effort resulted in "change without difference" because its core principles actually supported the practices of these conventional schools. In response, they argue that it was the failure of the school reformers to know how systems work (as if they have a life of their own) against change. The problem with this perspective is that pedagogical practices have changed in many ways during this century. The adoption and use of textbooks and, more recently, comprehensive instructional programs, standardized testing, tracking and other forms of ability grouping, as well as the extensive use of low-paid teacher aides, represent major changes. However, these changes did not substantively alter the schooling experiences of our teachers and children. To the contrary, they merely refined previous practices by making schools more efficient, accountable, or productive.

    It would not be surprising if, as Reigeluth (1987, p. 5) predicted, the third wave restructuring of schools is "inevitable." Especially for children of privilege, computers and software learning resource programs most likely will replace current printed instructional programs, teachers will continue to have responsibility for larger numbers of children with the assistance of inexpensive aides, standards (learning objectives) will continue to be predetermined, children will have more opportunity to work at their own pace in "mastering" these objectives, and the primary focus of their work in schools will be to prepare them for the future practical needs of society. If these changes are successful, will it be because the third wave school restructuralists, unlike the promoters of IGE, know how "systems work," or will it be because these changes actually reinforce the principles of social functionalism, efficiency and productivity, individualism, and expertism that have dominated the schooling of our children throughout this century? If schools do restructure, Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth will probably credit their (and their colleagues') knowledge of systems design theory. In contrast, based upon my understanding of their principles, I might draw a very different conclusion from this success.

    As previously mentioned, scholars often examine similar phenomena but reach different conclusions about them. Larry Cuban (1990) reminds us that "How we look at change [in education] depends on our goals and our mental map" (p. 72). It seems one potential cause for these respondents' statement that the third wave school restructuring movement was misrepresented in my original critique stems from the differences in our "mental map."


    This reply has explored the nature of misrepresentation in scholarly discourse. It has identified several factors that potentially contribute to problems that can emerge when one author attempts to represent and analyze the ideas of other authors. By exploring Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's objections to my analysis of the third wave school restructuring movement and thus conducting a meta-analysis of my original critique, it was possible to discuss five aspects of this problem. The challenge of identifying an intellectual movement, the placing of one's emphasis on certain ideas and not others, the difficulty of always understanding an author's point, creating different images based upon a particular text, and the generation of different analyses based on common phenomena all contribute to the potential misrepresentation of other scholars' ideas.

    Although Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's response to my article has provided an opportunity to gain some insight into the potential causes of this problem, it has not offered any solutions. To solve this problem, the respondents argue that I should have focused my analysis on those educators who are members of a particular association or, better yet, on one article, such as Reigeluth's (1987) piece on third wave school restructuring. The assumption is that this limited scope would have helped me avoid making so many mistakes. However, as this reply has illustrated, this narrowing of focus does not protect an author from the dilemma of representation. Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth's response was based upon a single article written by a single author, and yet they, too, "misrepresented" the ideas of this individual. It is unlikely that a simple solution to this phenomenon exists. Scholarship is always, on some level, a matter of interpretation and reinterpretation. As a result, there will always be instances in which a given author's ideas are "misrepresented" by another. Perhaps HER's solution is best. By offering opportunities for scholarly interchange of ideas, the problem of representation can be addressed within a particularistic context. After all, it is this type of discourse that makes a field of study vibrant and alive. It is also these discourses that can foster the development of new thought collectives.


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    Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., & Tarule, J. (1986). Women's ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.

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    Clark, K., & Holquist, M. (1985). Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Collins, A., Morrison, D., & Newman, D. (1994). Putting technology to work for school reform. In C. Reigeluth & R. Garfinkle (Eds.), Systemic change in education (pp. 71–82). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology.

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    Cuban, L. (1990). A fundamental puzzle of school reform. In A. Lieberman (Ed.), Schools as collaborative cultures: Creating the future now (pp. 71–77). New York: Falmer.

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    Dewey, J. (1963). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books. (Original work published 1938)

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    1 Jesse Goodman, "Change without Difference: School Restructuring in Historical Perspective," Harvard Educational Review, 65 (1995), 1–29.

    2 Alison A. Carr, Patrick M. Jenlink, and Charles M. Reigeluth, "Critique without Difference: A Response to Goodman," Harvard Educational Review, 65 (1995), 491–503.

    3 It is worth pointing out that these authors misrepresented my views in their statement, "the critical perspective Goodman takes is characterized by a dialectical `either/or' thinking that is emblematic of an outdated, positivistic mindset" (p. 493). They go on to suggest that I would merely replace social democracy with social functionalism, whereas they argue for the inclusion of both social visions. This assertion is completely false, as the following quote from my original article demonstrates:

    I am not suggesting that images of the information/technology age are irrelevant to the education of our children. Recent developments in electronic technology and information processing will certainly have major impacts on the way in which we live and on our children's education. I am suggesting, however, that this aspect of our culture should not be mindlessly prioritized over other equally (or more) valuable social visions. What is most important — and what is conspicuously absent from this third wave literature — is the recognition that school restructuring efforts be built upon an open discourse regarding the type of culture we wish to build and the relationship between schooling and this future society. (Goodman, 1995, p. 7)

    In addition, I would argue that if children were educated to create a vibrant social democracy as discussed by Dewey (1927), Benjamin Barber, (1984), or Robert Bellah and his colleagues (1985), they would have the intellectual abilities, as discussed by Reigeluth (1987) and other third wave restructuralists, to work in an "information/technology age."

    4 Carr, Jenlink, and Reigeluth (p. 501) thought I was suggesting that third wave restructuralists were dogmatic in my comments regarding Ted Sizer's use of his nine common principles in school reform projects (Goodman, p. 25). In fact, I was merely making the point that these principles are not used as ideological dogma by the Coalition of Essential Schools. I was not making any reference at this point to third wave school restructuralists.

    5 It is important to note that in my original article, I discuss recent developments in technology that do potentially promote meaningful change in our schools (pp. 13–14). The respondents' implication that I am unaware of these developments is inaccurate.
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    Winter 1995 Issue


    Uncertain Allies
    Understanding the Boundaries of Race and Teaching
    By Marilyn Cochran-Smith
    The Four "I's" of School Reform
    How Interests, Ideology, Information, and Institution Affect Teachers and Principals
    By Carol H. Weiss
    Total Quality Management in the Academy
    A Rebellious Reading
    By Estela Mara Bensimon
    A Postmodern Vision of Time and Learning
    A Response to the National Education Commission Report "Prisoners of Time"
    By Patrick Slattery
    Crossing Borders/Shifting Paradigms
    Multiculturalism and Children's Literature
    By Elaine G. Schwartz

    Book Notes

    Urban Sanctuaries
    By Milbrey McLaughlin, Merita Irby, and Juliet Langman

    By John Edgar Wideman.

    Children Solving Problems
    By Stephanie Thornton

    The Smart Parent's Guide to Kids' TV
    By Milton Chen

    New Directions in Portfolio Assessment
    Edited by Laurel Black, Donald A. Daiker, Jeffrey Sommers, and Gail Stygal.

    The Tao of Teaching
    By Greta Nagel

    Emergent Curriculum
    By Elizabeth Jones and John Nimmo.

    Teaching Hand Papermaking
    By Gloria Zmolek Smith.

    Postmodern Theory
    By Steven Best and Douglas Kellner.

    Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes
    By Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw.

    Towards Inclusive Schools
    Edited by Catherine Clark, Alan Dyson, and Alan Millward.

    Fabled Cities, Princes and Jinn from Arab Myths and Legends
    By Kharirat Al-Saleh; illustrations by Rashad Salim.

    Educational Action Research
    Edited by Susan E. Noffke and Robert B. Stevenson.

    By Terry Eagleton

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