In this article, Gary Thomas makes a provocative argument against the use of theory in educational inquiry. He examines the allure of theory for researchers and scholars in education, despite the emergence of strong anti-theoretical strands in postmodern thought. Thomas contends that the word "theory" is used to mean many different things in education, and that ideas about theory are thereby confused. He draws a distinction between personal theory and "grand" theory, and argues that both types of theory circumscribe methods of thinking about educational problems and inhibit creativity among researchers, policymakers, and teachers. He concludes by making a case for less structured problem-solving, thought experiments, and "ad hocery," a term he borrows from Alvin Toffler.
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