Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Education and change

The solution to many problems often is assumed to be education and if that doesn't work, then, more education.

Moreover, its not just education that is advocated, but education of a particular brand and type. Oftentimes, educational reform doesn't necessarily mean positive change. Sadly, new educational "initiatives" often seem to emphasize measurable metrics of performance and not real learning nor improved instructional intelligence. This happens at the elementary level, in secondary education and in higher education, where teaching remains a very poor relation to those other main enterprises: research and administration.

At all levels good teaching, good instructional practices and good administrators exist. Sadly, at all levels, they remain a minority. Moreover, as this article discusses, we seem almost pathological in our resistance to institutional instructional learning:
The biggest impediment to kids' learning to read is not biological or genetic: it's instructional. Instructional casualties account for the majority of that 50-60 percent of our poor kids who can't read.

...Does whole language work better than phonics? That's a dumb dichotomy. That's political. Science asks: For which kids are which instructional strategies most beneficial, at which developmental phases, in what classroom, and by what teachers?

We've pretty much answered those questions. But will anybody use our answers? No.

...People say, "Well, if you teach them too directly, they'll never love reading." I've never met a kid who loves something he cannot do.