Who should control knowledge?
Make no mistake – knowedge is power. Historically, knowledge was held by religious leader, political forces, and industrialized nations. They used this knowledge to control and influence those they wanted to lead. However, the Internet has done a lot to shift this balance of power to the people. Evidence of a shift in power is evident in blogs, YouTube, and Wikipedia where power is truly democratic and measured by how may people voluntarily tune in to or subscribe to a particular person’s content.
Knowledge and Behavior Interventions
So what does the technology have to do with behavior interventions? Knowledge about special education and about behavior interventions in particular used to only be accessable through research journals. Researchers at universities held the knowledge and they disseminated it in peer reviewed journals, at conferences, or at teacher in-service workshops. But the internet has made this specialized knowledge more accessible. Now, there are many other sources of knowledge about behavior interventions from websites, to blogs, to social networking sites.
One reservation we should all have as consumers of Internet knowledge is the source of that knowledge. Research journals gain legitimacy by being peer reviewed to screen out weak studies. That’s the way it is supposed to work. But what about blogs or websites about behavior or the personal experience from teachers. Are they necessarily inaccurate? No. Are teachers a reliable source of information on behavior solutions and interventions? I believe so. As long as we remember that an intervention proven to work numerous times on numerous students across numerous school environment should logically be a more accurate source of proof of intervention then one story from one teacher who used it one time. Emotionally, we are usually drawn to the teacher’s story over the evidence-based practice. But as consumers, we must always weigh the source of the knowledge.
Evidence-based practice is important. But teachers have valuable experience that must be taken into account. Just as book reviews from typical readers usually carry a lot of weight when you are buying a book online, so too must we harness the knowledge and experience of teachers when judging the social validity of behavior interventions.