This is the first piece on the NSF; click on this link to read the second one.
One important internal contradiction of the NSF is that is always calls for risky, disruptive, unexpected ideas, but in order to be funded, those risky, disruptive, unexpected ideas have to be based on a prolonged research, backed by a long list of citations, and managed by an established PI (meaning, that if a proposal has no lengthy introduction, long list of references, and a recognizable name there is no chance it will be even red).
The problem, however, that many NSF supported initiatives have nothing to do with scientific research. For example, in a recent post the NSF praises Dr. Viola Acoff for her work in broadening participation in STEM. What Dr. Acof does deserves all the credits and praises without any doubts, she and many other professionals do a great and very important job in the field of education helping various categories of people to get involved into STEM education. All that work, however, has very strong social impact, but very little scientific significance. Based on its on criteria, such socially important projects should not be supported by the NSF and have to be rejected. Or, there is another option - to "dress" all social projects in a scientific suit, to make them look like a scientific research.
NSF needs to stop finance any social projects. For example, NSF would never finance building a road or a bridge. Instead, NSF would finance study on the properties of different materials used for building roads or bridges.The same approach must be applied to the field of education. However, it does not mean all social projects in education have to stop. On the contrary, the support for the development of all aspects of teaching and learning practices needs to be amplified. But it is not the mission of the NSF to support such development. The mission of the NSF is advancing sciences! Hence, the Congress needs to establish a different fund with the specific mission of advancing educational practices on all levels of society.
Dr. Valentin Voroshilov
Education Advancement Professionals
All that descriptive knowledge essentially was no different from art - people developed it and then people admired it. There was no actual use, practical application of it. Of course, there were pockets of predictive knowledge in astronomy and mechanics, but even that knowledge was not based on a solid scientific methodology.
Only during the last two-three centuries predictive sciences have been significantly advanced, and the most developed of all is physics.
Nowadays, with our current knowledge about what predictive science is and does, we should not even call any descriptive science as a science anymore. But traditions day hard. Hence, despite the undeniable fact that there is no predictive knowledge in education (beside trivialities), the practice of describing educational events is being called "science".
On July 28, 2019 I sent a letter to 98 (!) members of various NSF committees in the field of education. As of 90/11 I have no feedback, no single letter. No "thank you for you letter, we will consider it", or "Please, forward your inquire to ...", or there are many other formal reactions, but even those are absent. This proves that people who work in NSF have no curiosity, no thinking outside of a box, no real intention to find something really new, or even no ability to recognize it if they see it. All the efforts go into checking if the documents (grant applications) fit the format. No wonder education in such a poor state - despite enormous amount of money spent on grants. When there is no real intention to achieve a real improvement, there is no any intention to discover ideas that do not fit in an accepted format. But formative thinking is not thinking, it is just pretending to thinking. When all one needs to do is to follow a format thinking is simply not required. And that is why education research virtually doesn't exist. Education research is not an actual scientific research establishing strong correlations between well-defined parameters, but an exploration, similar to a geographer exploring a new territory and writing letters with the description of the discoveries he/she made (or a botanist or zoologist describing new species they found). However, NSF administrators pretend that this is not true and prefer just ignore anything that can shake their state of self-imposed ignorance. That's just easier.
The links to all five my applications to the NSF 2026 Big Idea Machine (from August 31, 2018 to October 26, 2018):
1. Entry125253: High Frequency Data Streams in Education
2. Entry124656: objective measures of physics knowledge
3. Entry125317: National database teacher PD
4. Entry124655: role of NSF in funding education
5. Entry125719: The new type of a science course for science teachers.
To learn more about my professional experience:
The voices of my students
"The Backpack Full of Cash": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution
Essentials of Teaching Science
A copy of a note from the main page.
I am not an idiot or a reckless person. The reason I can allow myself writing what I think, even if that is perpendicular to commonly adopted and conventional views, is that my financial situation is sufficient and stable. Of course, as a normal person, I wouldn't mind making more money, or being involved in more interesting projects (as described in my generic resume). But I do not have to pretend to be someone I'm not to make my living.
This link lead to the description of the 2018 NSF awards in the field of education.
Below is a set of screenshots with the titles of the awards.
Based on the titles, none of the grants will provide any significant input for the science of education.
The mission of a science as a human practice is making reliable predictions. What the NSF should be asking from grant seekers is not just a "research question" (which, in the field of education, is often a rather trivial conjecture) but also "what new, specific and reliable predictions will science community be able to do as the result of this "scientific" research"? The key word is "specific", not something general like "practice makes perfect"; most of general laws of learning and teaching practices have been summarized in "The Fundamental Laws Of TeachOlogy".
Everything I said about the projects funded in 2016, remains correct for the projects funded in 2018.
It does not mean they should not be funded. It means, they should not be funded by the NSF (maybe, by some education disaster relief fund?).