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Educational Experience and the Neglected Landscapes of Possibility  

Pádraig Hogan

Evidence-based orientations have come to prevail among educational policymakers internationally in the early decades of the 21st century. These orientations are associated with two dramatic developments: first, the emergence of new common patterns in educational reform internationally; and second, the global rise of randomized control tests in educational research and the parallel rise of large-scale educational testing and evaluations. Because of the restricted way that evidence is conceived in these orientations they tend to neglect what is most important in educational endeavors. Such orientations largely obscure educational experience, not deliberately, yet almost as a matter of course. Educational experience tends to be recast as an arena for generating outcomes that can be indexed and ranked for purposes of evaluation of performance, nationally and internationally. Data that can be furnished in indexible form thus attains a new importance, both for educational policymaking and educational research. The consequences of these ongoing developments for how teaching is conceived and practiced are quite incapacitating but not adequately acknowledged. Equally unperceived are the debilitating consequences for educational research itself, in particular research that is related to policymaking. Illuminating the neglected landscape of educational experience thus becomes a pressing task, as does disclosing the possibilities that are most integral to it. This task involves undertaking a decisive reclamation of those possibilities, paying close attention to four key domains of relationships that define educational practice, when adequately conceived. A key distinction between having and being informs this reclamation and enables educational research itself to be regenerated.