Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This afternoon we attended a luncheon sponsored by the Center for the American Experiment (CAE) in Minneapolis. The key speakers were John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, authors of Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education.

As far too many of us are aware, American students perform poorly on international tests. Today's speakers attributed much of our students' poor achievement on the stranglehold the teachers' unions have on politicians. Since 1989 Teacher unions have been the #1 contributor to federal campaigns. Their protectionist mindset has have blocked reform for over 25 years.

The authors' solution to the problem is based on the pervasiveness of technology. When students and school systems find ways around the union defined classroom and learn via the Internet, the number of teachers required will decrease resulting in a decrease in union dues, and a release of the stronghold these unions have on education reform.

While I agree that there need to be changes, the following questions were left unanswered:
1 - What country that outperforms the USA attributes its success to the use of computers?
2 - The average number of instruction hours/day and length of school year are higher in countries that outperform US students (see here)
3 - During the past 40+ years we have raised children to believe they are perfect. In the process we have lowered standards and expectations. As a result, we have students who will not, do not and cannot compete in a competitive world.
What is needed is a commitment to:
1 - Content loaded instruction,
2 - Respect for learning,
3 - Respect for teachers,
4 - behavioral standards.
I taught in various levels of schools before the "whole child," "self-esteem" concept took hold. Children develop self-esteem when they learn. Filling them and their parents with false evaluations and using gimmicks to teach avoid the real issue - students and their parents in other countries respect education, they work at it, and they learn. To accept anything else, regardless of mechanics, is cheating our children.

One of today's questions was about teaching the "whole child." What this inane concept creates is a classroom lacking content with the phony idea of creating self-esteem in children. It's a lazy way to approach education.

Labels: ,