April 6, 2007

That's a feature, not a bug

This BBC News article worries that:

With lessons geared towards assessment, children are bored from the moment they begin formal schooling, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned.

Traditional play with sand and water was being replaced with work, it added.

Er, yeah. That's why we call it school and not play. And, at-risk kids really need to be spending as much time as possible catching up to their middle class peers as soon as possible.

The sad reality is that there is sufficient time to teach all the academics at-risk kids need to learn and still have plenty of time left over for music, art, recess, and fun. The problem is that many schools don't know how to effectively teach these kids in the first place, so the push is to spend increased amounts of time in poorly taught academic classes or "test prep" classes.

She said: "Pressure is now put on Year 1 teachers to prepare children for tests by removing sand, water, role-play etc and replacing with work space."

This was a "good model for how to switch children off and create failure," she said.

Actually, the object is to educate children. Educated children should be able to pass simple tests which measure what they've learned. And, the best model "for how to switch children off and create failure" is to fail to educate them well.


Instructivist said...

This Association of Teachers and Lecturers is a weird bunch. I wonder if we have anything like it.

In another article the acting deputy general secretary of this association is heard to mumble:

Martin Johnson, ATL's acting deputy general secretary, said prioritising academic education over other types of knowledge was "totalitarian".

"A curriculum is a selection from the total sum of knowledge, which is exploding," he said.

"For the state to suggest that some knowledge should be privileged over other knowledge is a bit totalitarian in a 21st century environment. We are arguing that knowledge which traditionally has high status should not be privileged over other kinds of knowledge.

Educationists are fond of prattling about exploding knowledge. The conclusions then lead in two directions: It's pointless to impart any knowledge because whatever we can teach is dwarfed by the explosion. Secondly, the notion of foundational knowledge is lost in the explosion. What these educationists miss is that the kiddies really must start at the beginning before they can benefit in any way from the explosion. These educationists are also unable to distinguish between knowledge and information. A disk full of insurance data, for example, is informaion. There is no need to memorize it.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you think about it, you can actually teach allthe important essentials, IF PROPERLY TAUGHT, USING TIME EFFECTIVELY, in less than four hours a day. This includes breaks, etc. Let's look at some instructional times:

90 mins- Reading/Language Arts
30 mins- AR Reading/Silent Reading (some education wonks just have got to have it so I'm throwing it in)
50 mins- Math
40 mins- Science/Social Studies/Health

So for an typical fourth grade class, we could see:

8:00-9:30 Reading/Language Arts
9:30-9:40 Morning Break
9:40-10:10 AR/Silent Reading
10:10-11:00 Math
11:00-11:05 Another Break
11:05-11:45 Science/Social Studies/Health

It's 11:45. Your instructional day is over. Forget about lunch. Send the kids home. Kids can now be home by noon and have the rest of the day for recess. Under the current arrangement, these same kids would be in school until 2:20. Doing what?

Who's says the school day is not long enough? The school day isn't long enough when you have teachers and schools that cannot effectively instruct children in the basics. An essentialist educational system works. This is why I was able to go to school, learn all the important things I needed to know by eighth grade, and didn't have tons of homework. The teachers used tried and true methods, not gimmicks and games. Neither did the teacher get burned out or the students.