We don’t know how to stop bullying?

Today’s newsflash from the Education Week newsletter:

Lack of Knowledge Stymies Efforts to Stop Bullying
School bullying is drawing attention across the country, but experts at the Education Department’s first national summit on bullying say more research is needed to pinpoint effective anti-bullying practices.

This conclusion astounds me in one way, but makes perfect sense in another. It astounds me because supposed “experts” don’t know how to prevent bullying. In my mind, those who do not know how to prevent bullying aren’t education “experts.”

But this conclusion also makes perfect sense. Given our definition of “educated” as scoring high on standardized tests, bully prevention is not included in our core mission. Instead, it is one more of those things teachers should be “effective” at, like (1) grouping students, (2) questioning them, (3) assessing them, (4) monitoring them, (5) challenging them, (6) encouraging them, (7) motivating them, etc. To determine “effectiveness” among the infinite number of things outside our core mission, we conduct social scientific studies. So it makes perfect sense that these “experts” look to more research to determine how teachers can “effectively” prevent bullying.

Unfortunately, education “experts” have adopted the wrong paradigm for improving education. All the research in the world won’t prevent bullying because research findings describe “effective” bully prevention in all situations in which all other things are equal to those in the study. In the real world all other things are never equal to those in the study.

We don’t need more research to tell us how to prevent bullying. We need more astute (educated) school personnel. That brings me back to teachers who were pretty good at preventing bullying. None of these “experts” in the Education Department would have been hired at St. Joseph Grade School in Appleton, WI, in the 1960s. Would you hire them at your school? If not, what are they “expert” at?

If you attended the national summit on bullying (or even if you didn’t), explain that to me. Please comment and submit.