May 16, 2008

Today's Video

Today's video is from cognitive scientist, Daniel Willingham, on brain-based education:

This is a good video to point your friends to the next time one of those new brain-based education fads comes knocking on your school district's door.

As Willingham makes clear, most of the "programs" out there trying to capitalize on important-sounding "brain-based" terminology are mostly bunk. He also explains why.

If you haven't done so yet, go read every one of Willingham's cognitive science articles from AFT's American Educator. You'll be the better person for it. (or at least you'll stop leaving me silly comments showing you haven't read them.)


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I took a great class from Dr. Willingham when I was an undergraduate at UVA: Cognitive Psychology. He was a quick thinking, and obviously very intelligent, man who made cognitive psychology a great subject.

Diana Senechal said...

A single Willingham article (or this video) has more sense than all the PDs I've taken, combined. I do not exaggerate. If I had a sense-distilling machine and put one of Willingham's articles into it, the machine would need to do no work. The article would come out intact, distilled unto itself. If, on the other hand, I put the PDs into the distiller, at most a few droplets of sense would emerge.

This year I attended six full days of mandatory brain-based training. It was a bizarre and frustrating experience. I couldn't understand how models and programs so obviously flawed could have become so popular, dogmatic, and well funded. I could say a lot about this, but I have even more to learn. The video not only matches my experience, but helps me understand in greater depth what is wrong with these brain-based models. I look forward to more.

CrypticLife said...

Sorry for being off-topic:

Does anyone recall the math program evaluation a school district did comparing Singapore, Saxon, and another (I think constructivist) program? It was mentioned in comments here once.

It was striking because one of the reasons for not choosing Singapore math was because the teachers weren't capable of it. I'm in a forum for the gifted where this has become relevant, and I'd like to post the link to the evaluation.

If anyone can help, thanks.

Anonymous said...


Catherine over at KTM might have it nearby if Ken doesn't. It might be on the old Kitchen Table Math site, too.

Also, I thought I saw it over at Illinois Loop (can't remember the exact address, but you can google it), or one of the parent rebellion sites.


KDeRosa said...

I looked but couldn't find it. I believe the research was conducted in L.A. I also think that the WWC threw the study out for lack of a control group. YMMV

Michael Shirley said...

I assign most of Willingham's AE articles to the students in my teaching methods course. Wonderful stuff.

Tex said...

Crypticlife --

You may be referring to New Milford, CT. However, they’ve taken down the reports from their website. I believe Catherine at KTM may have saved copies.

From their report:

The "change in landscape" image sounds exciting, but presents real practical problems. Can we train 6th grade teachers to teach Algebra I well? Can we recruit grade 7 teachers who are comfortable presenting lots of Geometry and Algebra II? If not, do we have a sense we could train them and, if so, at what costs? If we went down this road, it would become necessary to redesign the scope and sequence of high school math sequences. Does the system have the funds to do that and the staff to deliver the change? We would have almost all students taking Calculus by junior year, if not before then. That means the academic levels expected of all our staff would be raised in math.

REJECTED! Next item.

Anonymous said...

cryptclife, I can't respond directly to your request, but you may find the following helpful:

Also, consider posting to ohiogift:

concernedCTparent said...

Yes, I also believe crypticlife is referring the New Milford.

This is from the same report and refers to Singapore Math:

"The pace of the program is quicker than anything we do and quicker even than our curriculum calls for. As a result, some sped students actually perform AHEAD of their non-special education peers in successfully handling content almost by definition becoming non-sped students!"

Unfortunately Tex is right. Those reports have been pulled from the district website. I'm sure Catherine will email you the files though. They are worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Ken, there's a new version of Dan's video.