kitchen table math, the sequel: Barry G on the meme

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Barry G on the meme

re: Ed Next article on School of the Future
The author, like so many who paint "traditional" education with the same brush does not define what is meant by “failing with the traditional curriculum.” What are the numbers of students who failed and the criterion for failing? If traditional teaching failed, was it because of traditional teaching done poorly... has the author considered that teaching at Schools of the Future may be done poorly because it is inherent in the progressive nature of the “student-centered” and “inquiry-based” structure? How does the author know that successful people did not learn by sitting in a classroom in front of a board? Have the successful people he has met been taught exclusively by inquiry based and student-centered approaches, with cooperative learning, and popsicle stick dioramas of World War II?
The Ed Next article reminds me of the writing I did for New Woman Magazine back in the day. New Woman employed zealous fact-checkers who scrutinized every quotation and factoid, except for the founding claim made in the opening paragraph.

e.g.: Because it was New Woman Magazine, there were certain truths we held to be self-evident. Women were oppressed; men failed to commit; divorce was skyrocketing. I remember, by the time I left the magazine, being amazed that it was OK to assert, in a first paragraph, that divorce was skyrocketing when divorce had been doing no such thing for at last a decade.

In fact, skyrocketing change of any kind was simply assumed to be real when it was the peg from which an article would hang. Skyrocketing divorce, skyrocketing STDS, skyrocketing single motherhood by choice, what have you. No one ever asked for proof that a given phenomenon was actually, truly, measurably, skyrocketing.

That is the issue with the Education Next book excerpt: "traditional" education is simply assumed to be bad, while progressive education is assumed to be good. No fact-checking required.

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