My vision for MathEducators.SE is that we have a good place to ask quality questions and receive quality answers. I hope that this can be the place where people go to find answers for their questions relating to mathematics education. I would like to see questions/answers on topics like (just some random examples)
- methods of teaching
- research in mathematics education
- questions about introducing various topics
- good examples that teach a certain concept
- theories of learning
It is clear that even in this list of topics we will have different opinions. And so I believe we need to find a good way to deal with differences of opinions.
And I believe that everyone is welcome. We would not discriminate against anyone. It is not about who you are, it is about how you contribute.
That said, a core philosophy of Stack Exchange is:
We welcome questions that are clear and specific, representing real
problems that you face; Stack Exchange is not the place for
conversation, opinions, or socializing.
I think and believe that we have to respect that. We have to acknowledge that Stack Exchange is not just another forum where anything goes. We want to be inclusive, but we shouldn't accept all questions/answers. I think a this philosophy is one of the key reasons that Stack Exchange has become such a success. As I have seen it discussed on math.SE new users might feel like they are not welcomed when their questions or answers are closed or even deleted. From their point of view they are just trying to contribute. But if we want to be respected for the high quality, then that necessarily means we can't accept just anything.
I am afraid that if we allow answers that rely too much on personal anecdotes and experiences we end up just starting discussions and arguments. The stronger users will then end up running the whole site and we end up turning professional educators away.
Also, if we do not obey by this general philosophy, I would be afraid that Stack Exchange would shut the site down for us. But maybe one of the higher level moderators could address this for us.
But again, education will depend heavily on experience and personal stories. This is certainly much of my approach to teaching. I base my philosophy on what I have actually experienced. But I also acknowledge that when providing an answer I need to do more than just say " I feel like ...", "In my experience ...". I need to be more objective. And this all starts with having questions that are well-defined. Questions that have as definite answers as we can.
One way we can get good answers would be to require (yes require) that the answer is based not just on opinion. The answer always should contain objective information that contributes to answering the questions. So this could for example be citing research in mathematics education. I agree with Potato that there is a ton of good research out there. And we could probably all learn a lot from studying some of this.
This is a site for mathematics educators and people interested in mathematics education. By forcing ourselves to have to support our position with objective data, then that will increase the quality of the answers.
Yes, this means that it will take a bit longer to write an answer. But if we get better answers, maybe that is OK?
So, my vision is to see quality questions that have quality answers that make you have to think. Answers that encourages further study and though about the question.