The confidence not to know
October 3rd, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I distributed an article to my graduate leadership class that I am teaching.  It was a fairly challenging article to read in general – a meta analysis.  However, to the neophyte researcher, it was probably extremely challenging.  Being a research article, it had the typical parts:

  • abstract
  • introduction
  • methods
  • results
  • discussion/conclusion
  • references

My experience tells me that you don’t necessarily read a research report from start to finish, but rather use the subheadings to guide your search for information.  However, not everyone knows that, and there certainly is an art to the process based on expertise.  However, teaching that class, something else stood out – some students clearly didn’t understand some of the concepts and were (afraid?) (shy?) (lacking confidence?) (thinking they should, when really they shouldn’t?) to ask questions, or to verify their lack of understanding to me.

It gets me thinking . . . you really have to be confident to be willing to stand up and say you don’t know something.  That’s a real challenge.  As an educator, it’s my responsibility to create a culture that promotes confident questioning.   After all, I am working with educators and that’s where their expertise lies, not necessarily in educational research.  But as this cadre builds their knowledge – becoming a good consumer of educational research is critical, because after all – that’s what leads to being a producer of educational research.

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