Reading through a script and watching a few minutes of video will give you a good idea of how the program can be successful from some students' perspective and also why teachers often find it boring or frustrating to work with.Chris highlights two points that need further elaboration: 1. DI tends to be successful and 2. some teachers don't like it.
DI Tends to Be Successful
Chris states that "[DI] can be successful from some students' perspective." I'm not sure why Chris added the "from some students' perspective" qualification. DI is either successful with a student or it isn't. The student's perspective seems to be superfluous, unless Chris is implying that student learning in DI is illusory (and I don't think he is). But, the research on DI, which is extensive, does not appear to bear that out.
What the research does bear out is that DI is very successful with almost all students if the program is implemented properly. But it is neither teacher nor administrator proof.
Currently, a well implemented DI curriculum can increase student performance by up to two standard deviations. Considering that effect sizes in education on the order of 0.8 standard deviation tend to be considered large and unheard of, DI's performance is practically unparalleled.
For most children, DI is simply the most effective instructional program for learning reading and math and is often the difference between a poor or non reader and a good reader. Same goes for math.
This will be a critical distinction when we analyze Chris' second point.
Some Teachers Don't Like DI
Chris also states that "teachers often find [DI] boring or frustrating to work with." The "often" part is an overstatement, but Englemann himself has acknowledged such sentiments:
The main complaints are that the programs require teachers to follow a script, whichThis is a critical distinction. Students like DI. Students learn more with DI. Many DI teachers do, in fact, like DI. But some teachers don't like DI, because they find it boring and frustrating.
supposedly limits their creativity, and that the programs are boring...
Good teachers become superior DI teachers. Although the program may be boring for some teachers, it is not for the students. The rate of misbehavior is a lot lower during the structured DI periods than it is during less structured times of the school day.
Of course, this boredom mostly applies to the beginning reading instruction (depicted in the DI videos) and math programs where basic letter sound and counting skills are taught. In fact, most instruction in beginning skills (playing music, martial arts, sports) are pretty boring endeavors for the teacher and, for that matter, so is teaching reading by balanced literacy approaches. But let's assume arguendo that these bored teachers are right and that DI is marginally more boring.
Unlike other professionals who are burdened by malpractice claims, bored teachers are now faced with an ethical dilemma: teach the boring, but effective, curriculum that might result in about 5% student failures or teach the less boring curriculum that usually results in over half the students failing.
Guess which they overwhelmingly pick?
It's not a question of merely selecting the less boring alternative. In 2006, the less boring alternative is also substantially less effective teaching most children. In fact, the alternatives are so bad we had to make up a new category, "learning disabled," to describe kids of normal intelligence who still unexplainably don't learn what they're supposed to. But at least the programs are less boring for the teacher.
The lack of empathy for children is both amazing and brazen.
Could you imagine if surgeons refused to perform the effective new operation because it was boring and tedious and instead stuck with the easier operations even though they resulted in significantly more deaths? It's unimaginable. It's unimaginable because insurance companies would never allow such behavior, knowing that every patient who died would be suing.
But educators get off the hook scott free. Some even go so far to blog about their student failures, never missing an opportunity to blame the student (and often their parents) for their failure.