My kindergarten aged son passed his end-of-first-grade reading mastery test.
He had 3 minutes to read a 180 word passage (readability level: grade 1.1) with less than three errors. He did it in under 2 minutes with only one error (wpm = 107).
I'm claiming full responsibility since I've been doing reading lessons with him for the past year and his school is using the execrable Kid Writing which, if any, just served to confuse him and teach him bad habits (guessing at words). For the most part, I used a instructional program suitable for classroom use, so I'm thinking I can extrapolate my success into being able to teach a classroom full of bright kids like my son.
I am an expert teacher. A reading specialist, if you will.
Right about now, any teachers reading this blog are probably screaming.
My entire argument is based on a logical fallacy: that my ability to successfully teach one bright kid to read means that I can successfully teach a classroom full of kids, even kids who don't learn as easily. Yet, this is the same logical fallacy teachers themselves use when they claim to know how to teach almost any child, even when their only experience is teaching bright middle-class kids. And, even though there is overwhelming evidence that shows how ineffective our educators are with average and lower performers.
I also found out that you really don't have to be a very good teacher to teach smart kids. I am certainly not a very good teacher by any stretch of the imagination. My pedagogical technique is the same one I use when speaking to non-English speaking tourists. When my student doesn't understand the point I am trying to make, I simply repeat the point more slowly and more loudly. If further encouragement is needed, I occasionally threaten violence. And, guess what, invariably, he eventually gets whatever point I was trying to make by the time the next lesson rolls around.
Basically, he's teaching himself despite my inept presentation. My teaching does not have to be very careful because he'll eventually learn what he needed to learn by the time we need to move on to new material. All I need is a room full of bright students and I can teach with the best of them.
Of course it helped tremendously that I picked a coherent curriculum. All I had to do was slavishly follow it. And, the boy actually liked his lessons. No doubt because he was always successful at learning. Kids like learning and showing off what they learn. I never had a motivation issue with which to contend, because he never lost motivation or became frustrated.
And guess what? I didn't need any parental support either. Remember I'm the parent and I was too busy doing all the teaching. As a teacher, I didn't need any external help or support. From day one I was ahead of the formal instruction he was receiving in his kindergarten class. This was by design; I did not want to be teaching reactively.
When the teaching was effective, as mine clearly was, you don't really need outside help. And, if my teaching wasn't very effective, many parents might do what I did. I didn't provide parental support, I bypassed the entire formal education process and the potentially ineffective instruction and taught the material myself in a way that was completely different than what the school was doing.
All kidding aside; I am not a good teacher at all. I just got lucky and got a good student. I'm sure I would have failed miserably, due entirely to my own inexperience and lack of skill teaching, if I tried to teach a lower performer, or worse yet, a classroom full of lower performers. And, I am not so arrogant to believe that my success would translate to teaching other kids or a classroom full of similar kids.
Yet, hardly a day goes by that I don't read a post or comment in the edusphere by an educator who claims either to know exactly how to teach low performing children or to know what external factors are preventing them from doing so (invariably lack of money, lack of parental support, and too big class sizes) based on their limited experience teaching bright middle class kids which is about the same as my exposure.