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Gloucester County Humanists Message Board › Radical Educational Reform, Marion Brady

Radical Educational Reform, Marion Brady

Bill R.
Glassboro, NJ
Post #: 252

Education Reform: An Order-of-Magnitude Improvement

Thursday 26 January 2012

by: Marion Brady, Truthout | Op-Ed

Imagine the present corporately promoted education reform effort as a truck, its tires nearly flat from the weight of the many unexamined assumptions it carries.

On board: An assumption that punishment and rewards effectively motivate; that machines can measure the quality of human thought; that learning is hard, unpleasant work; that what the young need to know is some agreed-upon, standard body of knowledge; that doing more rigorously what we've always done will raise test scores; that teacher talk and textbook text can teach complex ideas; that ... well, you get the idea.

Misdiagnosing the Main Problem

Right now, the biggest, heaviest assumption on the reform truck has it that, when the Common Core State Standards Initiative is complete - when somebody has decided exactly what every kid in every state is supposed to know in every school subject at every grade level - the education reform truck will take off like gangbusters.

It won't. If all the reformers' flawed assumptions are corrected, but the traditional math-science-language-arts-social-studie­s "core curriculum" remains the main organizer of knowledge, the truck may creep forward a few inches, but it won't take the young where they need to go if we care about societal survival. The mess from this generation's political paralysis and refusal to address looming problems can't be cleaned up using the same education that helped create it.

What's wrong with "the core"? For its content to be processed, stored in memory, retrieved and combined in novel ways to create new knowledge, it would have to be well organized and integrated. It isn't. It's a confusing, random, overwhelming, intellectually unmanageable assortment of facts, specialized vocabularies, disconnected conceptual frameworks, and abstractions - the whole too far removed from life as the young live it for them to care about it.

So, they don't. They're being blasted with information at fire-hose velocity. The diligent and the fearful store as much as they can in short-term memory, and when testing is over, their brains delete what's considered clutter because it's not immediately useful. The non-diligent and the cynical guess and/or cheat the answer sheets. The rest (and their numbers, understandably, are steadily increasing) opt out of the trivia game, or are opted out by thoughtful, caring parents.

Click on above link to read the whole article and download free books and instructions.
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