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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education by Daniel T. Willingham

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Chapter 8

Step Four: Should I Do It?

The Owl of Minerva first takes flight only when the shades of night are gathering.

—G.W.F. Hegel1

Decisions about education are seldom easy. The stakes are high, and the issues are complex. In addition, decisions are binary—you adopt a Change or you don’t, even though you know that the effectiveness of a Change is best thought of in terms of probability. It’s a bit like the weather: the forecast says that there is a 50 percent chance of rain, but you can’t match your commitment to the probability by going on half a picnic. You have to go or stay home.

So how can you put together all of the information we’ve discussed? In this chapter, I’ll briefly review the factors that I’ve suggested you consider, and I’ll ...

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