(this article has been used for a proposal for The NSF 2026 Idea Machine)
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
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?).