Education. Problem? Solution!
“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking.” Sir Joshua Reynolds. One of Thomas Alva Edison’s favourite quotations.
This is played out in the Great American Schools Debate. (Great debate, not great schools.) What happened? Why? What can be done to fix it?
First, I have come across nothing that substantiates the claim that using phonics to teach reading caused the decline in the ability of American students to read.
[Hold this thought. The decline was in test scores. We will return to that topic.]
There are numerous reasons that can be cited; and probably were. Failure to identify students needing glasses. Failure to identify students with ADHD. Failure to identify students who came from troubled homes, and so on.
Still, reading ability declined and we embraced a panicked approach to solving the problem—or not.
What really happened is the opportunity to make a buck. Exploiting children. Shaking America down for loot.
Some nincomperson writes a book and becomes an expert by appearing on talk show television. Was he an expert? Did reading ability
A. Go up
B. Go down
C. Stay the Same
D. All of the above
E. None of the above.
Mostly, they went down. Still, studies can and will show that all of the above is most likely correct. It depends on who did the test, on how the test was conducted, on why the test was conducted. None-the-less, children are less able to read today. How do I know this? Because everyone is in a panic to solve the problem of youngsters not learning to read.
Not too long ago, the demand was for better-educated teachers; more experienced teachers; better-looking teachers, and so on.
In a marketing strategy, and to appease parents, school officials fabricated a higher standard. Teachers with Masters Degrees, teachers with PhD’s, and teachers with more experience. This created an artificial demand and pushed up the price of education. This did not work. How do I know this? There is a continued demand to improve education in America.
Now, we have a new mantra: get rid of collective bargaining, fire experienced teachers, lower the cost of education, and everything will be hunky-dory. Will this strategy work? Have the experts been right before? No. How do I know this? If they were, there wouldn’t be a need to do something about declining education.
Now, I admit that my approach to examining the problem involves a bit of trickery. I am using common knowledge and common sense. However, please overlook that for the moment. Then again, don’t.
If performance is lower today than it was yesterday, then it must have been higher yesterday. If performance yesterday was lower than it was the day before, performance must have been higher the day before. Now, anyone with more intelligence than a five-pound bag of store brand cheese puffs will ask, “How did we teach children to read when children learned to read?” Answer, in the public arena, “Things were different back then.” To which I respond, “You’re darn tootin’ they were. Children learned to read.”
Now we get to teacher testing. The new demand is to test teachers. What an incredibly not smart idea.
1. The people who want teachers tested are the same people who inveighed against testing students. (Teaching to the test.)
2. The people who want teachers tested are the same people who’ve said, “Testing promotes memorization and memorization stifles creativity.” (All our children would be kings and captains of industry except that they had to memorize the times tables and that stifled their creativity.)
3. The people who are most concerned about testing teachers are the same people who relied on testing to banish phonics from the classroom. Do you remember what I asked you to set aside for later? [Hint: The decline was in test scores. We will return to that topic.]
Then there is the demand for charter schools. The people who laud charter schools, and cite low costs and high performance as compurgation for their position, apparently don’t listen to what they themselves are saying. They choose to ignore the part about how charter schools are unfettered by the opinions of the experts who are fettering public school education. How do I know that to be true? They are citing the poor performance in public schools. How do they know that? They cite test scores. How do they feel about testing? They don’t want children tested because teachers will teach to the test; however, they want teachers tested to see if the teachers know the subject matter. (There is a sentence in there somewhere, some assembly required.)
I once opined, online, that Parochial schools are doing a fine job at educating children. What no one waited to hear was this: “Parochial schools teach the way public schools used to teach when children learned to read.” What does that mean? Parochial schools are not fettered by the constraints imposed on public schools by the experts in education hired to solve the problems caused by experts in education.
Here is a novel idea. Let the teachers teach.
Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview
Teachers aren’t allowed to teach anymore.
How many parents want their children to get the appearance of an education?
No excuse to fail.
The virtual classroom class reunion highlights.
Now, what about experts?