-- Education IMPROVED --
1) Main site is Improve-Education.org. Articles there are scholarly (in a lively way) and intended to last for years. This blog is for short newsy bits. 2) This site is pro-education, pro-teacher, and anti-Education Establishment. Basically, that's the professors who devise policy. They love social engineering.
I'm sorry but it's the same thing over and over again. New Math, Whole Word, Common Core, Constructivism, and all the rest. There's a sudden rush of hyperbole. The premise is that this thing is God's final gift to us, and we must embrace it immediately. But smart people know that you must test new ideas in a limited area over time. The very fact that they want to do it fast and for everybody without proper testing tells me it's another loser.
(See background article on American Thinker about customized learning, also known as individualized learning, also known as differentiated learning. That's typical. To have three different names for the same thing so right off the bat, nobody knows what anybody else is talking about.)
The basic idea is that each student has a different curriculum or different textbook, so to speak. You learn whatever it is you learn, I learn whatever it is I learn. We do not necessarily have anything in common, anything that we can discuss over lunch. Another name for this phenomenon is fragmentation.
The more I think about individualized learning, the more reasons I have to distrust it.
The first thing you think of is that there will be a lot of extra work and bookkeeping. If a teacher has 25 students that means the teacher is responsible for 24 new Individualized Education Plans (IEP's).
So this is another chapter in the ruthless disregard and contempt we show for our teachers. They don't have enough work now so let's give them dozens of new students, so to speak. (This whole gambit may be mainly concerned with creating the illusion of work for the many thousands of unnecessary administrators we have.)
And all these extra IEP's have to create a welter of chaos. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the class is in effect in a different classroom. The only place all the stuff comes together and becomes coherent is in a computer somewhere which is keeping track of all the different things that Tom and Dick are studying.
So here are my two big objections. This whole individualized gimmick is a juggernaut directed against a society, and the cultural cohesion of the society. It used to be that every kid knew that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Not to mention, that four score and seven years ago our fathers did such and such.
Resolved: it's the school's job to pick out the things that everybody should know, and then make sure everybody knows them. I believe this coherence is the main target of individualized instruction. They want anarchy. They want entropy. They want confusion and chaos. And now they have an authorized way to do it.
Wait, there's more. Individualized instruction is not practical without computer learning, or digital instruction. It's the computer that knows the lesson, to whom it's to be taught, how to do it, and so on. So whose job is minimized usually? The teacher's job. The teacher actually no longer has a job in this scheme.
Already, Constructivism had reduced the teacher to a facilitator, a guide, a helper, someone who could make a suggestion now and then. That's the degradation our teachers have suffered. They are no longer teachers at all. Individualized instruction caps this off thoroughly. Perhaps the teacher assigns a number to each student and from then on the teacher has nothing to do. The busywork expands terrifically. The bookkeeping. The record-keeping. The administrative stuff that administrators should be doing will also be done by the teacher.
So even if the teacher may be busy on all kinds of busy-work, it's quite possible that the teacher will never be actually teaching, as in transmitting knowledge to students. Teachers and teaching are what will be destroyed by individual learning.
I hope everyone will think about this from their own experience and point of view. Be very dubious about our Education Establishment. I don't know if they lie all the time; but I believe they lie much of the time. So when these ideas are proposed, please challenge them.
You have to always understand that even as all these administrative changes are made, the actual content is being scrambled and altered. These kids don't learn to look for right answers. They learn to find some answer that they can explain. Imagine that each child in the classroom is working on a different math problem and each one has a different wrong answer that they have figured out how to defend.
A famous professor at Notre Dame has declared that his students don't know who won the Civil War. These kids are "know nothings," according to this professor. But even he probably does not realize the full ramifications. Thanks to individualized instruction, each kid will know a different wrong answer. Isn't that poetry for the Devil's ears?
One kid will say South Carolina won the Civil War. Another will say Germany. Another one will confidently say France. Another will say Canada. Another will say New York City. And on the merry parade will go.
In fact, I don't think the name individualized instruction is correct. It should be individualized ignorance.
Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is “Saving K-12” He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org. Support his work on Patreon.
1) Please join my Patreon campaign to improve public schools. 2) Share this announcement with everyone you think wants genuine education reform.
A lively but very serious book that virtually every educated American will enjoy, "Saving K-12" deals with two huge questions. WHY has the Education Establishment dumbed down the public schools? And HOW did they accomplish this feat? For example, how do they spend many years teaching children to read but somehow millions of children never become good readers?
Bruce Price’s SAVING K-12 is a MUST read! It is precise, concise and powerful. Action is required…for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and the future of the American Republic!"
Robert W. Sweet, Jr., President, The National Right to Read Foundation
Saving K-12 is available for preorder now.
If you are a book reviewer and want a copy, please let me know.
This book is the best cheap gift for smart people.
ANNOUNCING MY NEW BOOK: "Saving K-12--What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?" can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Lively reading about serious topics.
More info here: www.Lit4u.com
post on educationimproved.blogspot.com
During 2015, I was constantly struck by two main trends we need to reverse. First, the Education Establishment continues its work of dumbing down the public schools, using a broad array of weird theories and methods. I started to think this phrase all the time: the fix is in. That is, we're being attacked from every direction. One group comes up with bogus approaches. Another group launches a PR campaign to tell us how wonderful these cons are. Another group raises money to attack anything in the way. Nothing is left to chance. This ruthless redundancy was clearly seen during the Common Core Debacle. Which reminds us of the little good news there is: the bad guys don't always win. If the public fights back, the public can prevail.
Which brings us to the second sad trend. Our community and political leaders, our movers and shakers, all the people who should be helping the public to fight back, are silent and useless. From the Chamber of Commerce and the Ivy League universities, through all the official education groups, to the major religious organizations – what are these people doing? As far as I can tell, not much. Please, if you are a member of any organization, encourage that organization to be better informed, to take stands, to agitate for better public education.
Along with the education work, I'll be busy on a variety of literary projects. Please see my literary site Lit4u.com for information about the five novels now available as e-books.
But I'm going back, at least half the time, to being a novelist. I'm trying to bring all my projects to fruition.
My first experiment in this direction is "The Man Who Falls In Love With His Wife," romantic drama set in Manhattan. Can a husband love his wife too much? Just to be clear, this is not "romance." It's best described as literary fiction. (You can read a preview or buy the e-book HERE.
In particular, I wanted to stay away from politics. You don’t need any special expertise to sound off about politics. As an education critic, I find there’s few other people doing what I’m doing. But as a political critic, I would be one of many thousands.
Trouble is, I found more and more that politics and education blur together these days. Here’s why. Both fields have been taken over by liars and sophists. Was it always like this? Or has it simply become more blatant?
Maybe I should try to describe my a-ha moment. Trying to explain Obama to myself (or anyone else) turns out to be difficult because he says whatever he needs to say on any particular day. Meanwhile, I found that explaining sight-words, Whole Word and why so many children are illiterate is very difficult, because the Education Establishment sells its nonsense any way it can.
A few years ago I wrote an article that basically concluded, if you can understand Obama, you can understand sight-words. Similarly, if you can understand sight-words, you can understand Obama. In both cases, there’s nothing genuinely there except the deception and sophistry being promoted at that moment.
That’s pretty strong but also very helpful. It may be the only way you can understand sight-words and the way reading has been taught, such that we have 50,000,000 functional illiterates. It’s very hard for the average parent to grapple with the reality that the Education Establishment may be nothing but a chorus of liars. But if you look at sight-words, Reform Math, Common Core, constructivism and all the rest, you eventually realize that the lying never stops.
Then you look at the New York Times protecting Obama at every turn. What you have is another chorus of liars. And if you look back and forth from the people keeping Obama in office and the people keeping sight-words in the public schools, you are confronted by similar choirs.
Years ago, the Left came up with the idea that journalists don’t need to tell the truth. They could tell each one’s personal subjective truth. Schools of journalism now teach their students to lie. That’s why you have these contrived stories about rape at UVa. And that’s why you have the irresponsible reporting about Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown. The journalists pick the perspective that makes the minority person look innocent; and they just keep pushing it. If they had bothered to look at the relevant videos, they would know not to take such a biased position.
So what’s the bottom line here? I don’t think there's a single good idea in the public schools and I don’t think there is anybody at the top of education telling you the truth. Furthermore, I don’t think there's anybody in the White House telling the truth and I don’t think that anybody in the liberal media is trying to make them tell the truth. That’s grim but probably closer to the truth than not.
Harvard had a motto “Veritas. Would any university pick that motto today? It’s doubtful. Harvard’s probably trying to figure out a way to pretend they didn’t do it, because what liberal universities really believe in these days is their agenda. Ten big lies to push their agenda don’t even add up to one little white lie as far as they’re concerned.
How can we hope to sustain a civilization based on perpetual dishonesty? I think it’s up to everybody to start over and do what it takes to rebuild our integrity. In the first grade say that 2+2 = 4. Conversely, claiming that 2+2 = 5 must be denounced as a lie. You start to mess with 2+2 = 5 only if you're crazy, you’re a criminal, or you’re trying to set up a totalitarian regime as in 1984.
There are lots of legitimately complicated things to argue about: the nature of reality and what God is up to. But if we're talking about whether a six-foot person is taller than a five-foot person, that’s merely a fact. You can’t pretend that facts are not there. Obama lives in a world where he can say anything on any given day and then contradict it on a later day. Our Education Establishment lives in a world where they can announce that any theory can achieve any results.
How to restore integrity to K-12 education: eliminate dubious theories and methods. Here is a list of what needs to go: "Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education"
Bruce Deitrick Price / Improve-Education.org
If you want something to be optimistic about, reflect on this...
Those goofy self-appointed experts who control the public schools in this country made a big mistake. They went too dumb, too fast, too blatantly, too obnoxiously. (You might say they did a King George.)
They basically told the parents of America, "Eat cake, shut the hell up, and don't bother us. If your kids come home with weird homework that you cannot do, just remember the reason is that you're not very bright. There's no reason to expect that your kids will be very smart. So just accept your fate, and their fate, and leave us alone so we can do our job, which is supporting Pres. Obama in his fundamental transformation of the country into a socialist paradise. And that's not a snarky joke. We really believe it will be a paradise. For us."
Their arrogance and contempt turned out to be really good news for the rest of the country. Parents have struggled with the stupid problems and come to the correct conclusion that the people designing these problems are not serious about math. They are serious about something. But what it is the average person cannot understand. That's because the average person is not a power-hungry ideologue control freak.
So there is a lot of discontent in the land. This creates an opening. Every excess in boxing or military maneuvers creates an opening for a counterattack. You don't need to persuade the mothers of America that something is seriously wrong. They know that from their own experience.
So if you're an education reformer, you can take the position that Reform Math must be destroyed completely. Use Singapore Math. Use Saxon Math. Use any old-fashioned math textbook from 75 years ago. Doesn't matter. The point is that RM must be eliminated. The parents of America are ready for that sweeping decision. First Reform Math, then Common Core. They both emanated from the same swamp.
Here is a longer discussion of the same points in American Thinker. If this whole perspective is new to you, please read this other article and the comments that people left.
But which is its dirtiest trick? This article in American Thinker (link below) argues that the sickest aspect of Common Core is that the math homework, the math instructional methods generally, divide parents from children. Only scoundrels could come up with this stuff.
The basic gambit is to teach math in a way very different from what the parents know about or can understand. We first saw this nonsense in the 1960s under the rubric of New Math. The country ridiculed this approach and rejected it. But the education professors had shown their hand. Whenever possible, they would figure out a way to teach something (anything) in a way that was alien and mysterious to the parents. The goal seemed to be to drive a huge wedge between the generations.
This works particularly well in math. Math is often a complex subject. The ordinary parent has probably not gone very far in math. So you can throw something weird at them, and they'll be intimidated. They barely remember the old arithmetic they learned 10 or 20 years before. But here is something new coming from the school that makes no sense at all. What to do?
Imagine this scenario happening a billion times each year. That's probably an accurate figure
The child comes home with an instructional sheet from the school. The parent glances at it and can't understand it. So now the parent is sitting there feeling stupid. The kid is watching and wondering what's going on. Maybe his parents aren't so bright after all. The parent can complain to the school and look small-minded. The parent can try to figure out the material and teach it to the child. But this is exhausting and takes a lot of time.
Besides, the parent senses that a trick is being played. Just look, here's a way to multiply numbers that takes twice as long as the way we learned!!
Well, at this point, you need confident parents who are willing to scream: you people are Pavlovian phonies and we're not going to take it anymore.
We see this wonderful phenomenon on a Facebook page called "Parents Against Everyday Math." For the record, Everyday Math is just one of a dozen kinds of Reform Math. It just happens to be the most common variety. Parents come to this site to leave their horror stories about homework they couldn't understand. Nor could they help their children to do it.
This has been a pattern for many decades: parents bitching and moaning about math instruction, particularly math homework. Fifty years ago and before, the children bitched and moaned. That's the way it's supposed to be, because they are the students.
The idea that parents cannot do homework intended for seven-year-olds is just so counterintuitive, just so crazy, that the average parent cannot get their brain around it. Nor should they have to try.
The parents need to look in the mirror and say these words: The school is disrespecting me. They are trying to make me look bad in the eyes of my children. They are dumbing down my children. A lot of overpaid people are spending their careers dreaming up stuff that will make my life worse and will weaken the country. I don't want to put up with this anymore. I want to find the people who okayed this bogus method, and get them demoted.
Saxon Math is better than Reform Math. Any halfway sensible approach to arithmetic is better than Reform Math.
I wrote an article a few years back arguing that you could teach first-graders everything they need to know about arithmetic with a handful of coins and a few dollar bills. At the end of the year they will know how to make change on any small purchase. They'll be able to add and subtract any one or two digit numbers. And a big reason why all that progress is possible is that virtually any parent can help them with their homework.
COMMON CORE'S DIRTIEST TRICK: http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/04/common_cores_dirtiest_trick_dividing_parents_and_children.html
FIRST-GRADE MATH ARTICLE: http://brucedprice.hubpages.com/hub/PricesEasyArithmetic
Bruce Deitrick Price
- Remain a novelist, artist, poet, and art director. But main activity is writing about education reform.. The schools, now bad due to ideology and laziness, could be easily improved. That claim is clearly explained in new book "Saving K-12--What happened to our public schools. How do we fix them?"I invite everyone to join my crusade or start your own. The worst thing is letting the Education Establishment continue its reign of incompetence.Visit Improve-Education.org. (Or Google Bruce Deitrick Price and any education topic; you'll find some interesting articles. I have 400 ed articles, videos, and book reviews on web. Please use them in your own battles.)
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