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A Fallibilistic Approach to Education Policy
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Drawing on classical and contemporary sources in the philosophy of science and education, I argue that a robust understanding of fallibilism is absent from current education policy decisions. An inadequate appreciation of the uncertainty involved in the scientific method detracts from the education process, particularly affecting students who are subject to a hodgepodge of insufficiently supported "best practices." After explaining how this problem affects current education policy decisions, I explore the sources and nature of fallibilism. I describe different characterizations of the theory, emphasizing scientific fallibilism, and discuss its roots in the conjunction of finite human capabilities and complex, indeterminate, and dynamic systems. I suggest that a solution to the problem fallibilism poses for the practice of education should derive from the unique nature of the educational task, and I survey a number of influential theories of education in order to distill common elements. I argue that these essential and enduring aspects of education should be preserved in revisions to education policy, and suggest a set of principles to guide future decision making about the implementation of new research. While I argue that philosophical analysis is suited to the task of guiding education policy and serves as a useful lens through which to evaluate evidence-based policy proposals, I recognize that the solution offered is itself subject to the constraints of fallibilism. The resulting process functions more as a system of checks and balances than a concise algorithm for decision-making.
Petrik, Kathryn Rose (2016). A Fallibilistic Approach to Education Policy. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from