Educational maxims · Kitchen Table Math · Palisadesk

Education Non-Myths

I was so taken with this posting on Kitchen table Math from Palisadesk that I asked permission to reproduce it in full and disseminate the maxims a little more widely. So here it is:

Education Non-Myths
I couldn’t resist sharing these maxims from a new blog :
whose author I know from a previous book he wrote entitled Power Teaching (it’s in the list of books I recommended in a post a few months ago:

What follows is from the “Book of Right”, the set of assumptions which will produce learning.

1. Although students come from different backgrounds, and some are much easier to teach than others, what education brings to the student is much more important than what the student brings to education.

2. All subjects are hierarchically arranged by logic and there is a sequence of instruction which must be followed by all but the most exceptional of high-performing students.

3. Reinforcement is a very powerful determinant of student achievement. The main reinforcer in education is the improvement the student sees in his skills. Ill-constructed curricula, the kind found in almost every government school, result in a steady diet of failure for most students.

4. Having a system of education which is not a civil servant bureaucracy is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for effective education. You can’t do it with such a bureaucracy, but just because you don’t have a bureaucracy doesn’t mean you can do it.

5. Higher order thinking skills are explicitly taught, not fondly hoped for.

6. Methods of teaching are determined by scientific research, not consensus based on experience and sincere belief.

7. Teachers use a curriculum and lesson plans which have been demonstrated to work best and are not expected to create their own.

8. Psychological assessments are used rarely, but assessment of student progress, which means assessment of the effectiveness of teaching, occurs at least daily.

9. Teachers are taught how to teach in detail rather than being expected to apply vague philosophical maundering.

10. Special education is rarely needed because students are taught well on the first go round.

11. If a student does not learn, the blame is not placed on neurological impairment, but on faulty teaching methods.

12. Self-esteem is not taught because it does not have to be.

13. Students are not given “projects” until component skills have been mastered and rarely thereafter.

14. No attention is paid to individual “learning styles” because these hypothetical entities have no effect on learning.

15. Academic success can be measured by reliable and valid standardized tests, although many of these tests are too simple.

16. Students are expected to perform correctly in spelling, writing, reading, and mathematics and it does not stifle creativity.

17. The precepts of Whole Language are not used to teach reading because these precepts are wrong.

18. Students are not expected to create their own reality because this leads to frustration and slow learning.

19. Students are not expected to learn when it is developmentally appropriate but when they are taught.

20. The concept of multiple intelligences is ignored because it has no positive effect on learning.

21. The teacher is a teacher and not a facilitator.

22. The spiral curriculum is not used because things are taught properly the first time.

23. The customer is the parent and the customer must have the economic power to move his child to another teaching situation when unsatisfied.

24. In private education, the cost of education is known. In public education, the cost can never be known because there is no motivation to tell the truth and every motivation not to.

25. The curriculum must be tested on children and provision must be made for mastery learning. Passage of time or exposure does not guarantee learning.

26. Students are not tortured by “creative problem solving” because this is just another crude IQ test and has no value aside from categorizing students yet again.

I’m not sure I agree that “special education will rarely be needed,” because I have observed that students with certain exceptionalities (autism, some LDs, some language impairments) need the same effective instruction but can’t benefit from it in an inclusive setting, at least not initially. However, I agree with the general case, that much “special education” is simply ineffective general education, watered down in in a smaller group. As Lloyd Dunne (I think) observed, “It’s not special, and it’s not education.”

All students deserve better.

Hear, hear! And, thanks to Palisadesk for permission to reproduce the above.

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