Scientific Reductionism • The premise of scientific reductionism is that a phenomenon can be broken down into its simplest form becoming a series of parts which can be viewed in place of the phenomenon as a whole.
According to Stepulevague and Plumeridge (1998) • reductionism is "the breaking up of a phenomenon into simpler, isolated parts in order to come to an understanding of the more complex."
Question: • Does the act of breaking a phenomenon into smaller unrelated parts makes it easier to understand.
Bilimoria (1998) • supports this definition by stating that through scientific reductionism a complex phenomenon can be completely understood in terms of its elements. • One reason for the breaking up of a phenomenon is to create a form which can be measured.
Questions: • Did Fredric Taylor support this breaking up of a phenomenon is to create a form which can be measured? • Was he successful?
Miller (1992) to explains scientific reductionism by looking at the following characteristics. • "Nature is a system of lawful regularities best understood through reason." • "Truth is tested by actual effectiveness in practical use." • "the highest aim of science is to give humankind the power to control physical events by channeling the knowledge of natural laws.
Does Scientific reductionism have the potential to impact our schools? • Whether one sees this as a positive or negative event depends upon their views regarding scientific reductionism. • Total scientific reductionism to the point of suspending the merit of emotions, feelings, and values will likely not occur in our schools. • It may be acceptable that studies in certain subject areas are relatively free of emotions with emphasis on phenomena which can be broken down and measured accurately.
Several experts in education have spoken out against the over reliance on numbers in place of human feelings and potential. • Friedman (1999) stated that human functioning cannot be explained by biology or other physical phenomena. • Additionally, Stepulevage & Plumeridge (1998) believe that it is difficult to reintegrate what is experimented upon back into its complex social structure.
Question: • Do you think Scientific Reductionism is the proper lense for looking at American Education?
The lack of support for scientific reductionism in educational organizations may be a result of what Bilimoria (1998) calls legitimizing pillars of normative management. • She cites these pillars as positivism, objectivism, reductionism, rationalism, and science. • She further states that education is hesitant of these areas because they do not rely on the wisdom of ancient traditions and knowledge systems.
There is additional research that conveys a lack of support for scientific reductionism • Greenfield & Ribbins (1993) claim that administrative science has failed education. • Human potential and passion are lost because science eliminates human emotion from the equation (Greenfield & Ribbins, 1993). • Poggenpohl (1998) supports this by stating that "Abstraction and scientific reductionism fail to address issues of human agency."
Is Scientific Reductionism a source of conflict amount groups mentioned in “School Wars”? • The pressure that educational organizations feel from community groups lead to what Gaddy, Hall, and Marzazno (1996) call School Wars.
Different segments of the community call on educational leaders to adhere to practices they believe should be the function of the schools. Many times these different segments of the community are at odds with each other. • One area where community groups are at odds with one another is in the area of teaching of morality. • Stoll and Beller (1998) advocate the teaching of morality and say that reductionism misses the nature of what it means to be morally educated. • when human nature is reduced to a set of isolated components we lose what many maintain is our moral self.