Saturday, April 11, 2020

Epistemic trespassers - Professor P.L.Thomas

The following in an extract of an article by P.L. Thomas .
P. L. Thomas, Professor of Education (Furman University, Greenville SC)

'Epistemic trespassers judge matters outside their field of expertise. Trespassing is ubiquitous in this age of interdisciplinary research and recognizing this will require us to be more intellectually modest.
First, the intellectual characters of trespassers often look unsavoury. Out of their league but highly confident nonetheless, trespassers appear to be immodest, dogmatic, or arrogant. Trespassers easily fail to manifest the trait of intellectual humility and demonstrate one or another epistemic vice (Whitcomb et al. 2017, Cassam 2016). Second, it’s useful to distinguish between trespassers holding confident opinions and investigating questions in another field. I assume it can be epistemically appropriate for people to look into questions beyond their competence, even when it would be inappropriate for them to hold confident opinions.
This is a key distinction (arrogance v. modesty) for an enduring question in the U.S., one that has remained at the forefront of public and political debate since at least the 1940s: Why are students not learning to read?'

I don’t believe the above is directed at me but nevertheless let me respond as if it were addressed to me.

I am confident in what I write because I quit my job and taught more than 70 kids on a one on one basis to learn why they could read in Malay but not in English. I have observed them and ‘interviewed’ them while teaching them, as well as after they had gone to high school and university. What I have is first-hand information directly from my former students. 

I am even more confident now as I have been collecting evidence from students and teachers from overseas. This is what was advised by Dr. Joe Torgesen way back in 2010 when I had several email exchanges with him - to collect as much evidence as possible.

I may be seen as immodest and arrogant, and why have I become so? The reason is this. I have been polite for the past 10 years and I have been run-down by many of the educators on LinkedIn as well as via emails.  I had put up with their arrogance of asking me for my credentials when they are unable to answer direct questions.

Has anyone interviewed any such kids and found out directly from them as to why they were unable to read in English and are able to read after a short period of intervention? I have that experience. 

I have asked questions since 2010 very politely not for seeking an answer but to get the other party to think. 

I am confident with my findings and I am willing to be questioned by any educator from anywhere in the world. The time has come to start a revolution in teaching kids to read.

Intellectually humble educators should be willing to admit their mistakes and should be willing to learn from anyone who may know something they may not know. They should be open to all views.

The intellectually arrogant people are those who write blog posts and do not respond to comments made. They should get off their high horses and start examining and seek the answer to the question posed by PL Thomas ‘Why are students not learning to read?’.

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