Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better
For several years now, when I think of the public schools, the first issue that springs to mind is the stark absence of any mention or consideration of the need for practice. In the 14 years we've had kids in our local schools, I don't believe I've ever heard an administrator use the word 'practice' in any context other than 'football practice' or 'basketball practice,' etc.
When the subject is academics, the word is always 'understand.' Students will 'understand.' Not practice.
That's a problem because although class time is all about understanding, the tests are about remembering: students are tested on what they know. Which means students have to practice the content taught in the classes, but the school doesn't worry about providing effective practice. Teachers give homework, but no one collects or corrects the homework, and no one asks whether the homework actually works. Does the assigned homework increase knowledge? Nobody knows, and nobody asks. Practice is not a topic of conversation. At least not within my hearing.
Naturally under this system (Teach, test, and hope for the best), parents end up hiring a lot of tutors --- but tutors can't really provide effective practice regimens, either. (Even if a tutor would like to provide a practice regimen, parents don't need a whole new set of homework-from-thetutor to deal with.)
So the core requirement of all learning -- practice -- is left to the kids.
Let's just hope they're following the literature.