9 Big Reasons Why Public Schools Wallow in Mediocrity1) Bad Reading Methods. Whole word (also known as sight-words, Dolch words, and many other aliases) is an 85-year flop that never worked. Children are told to memorize words as graphic designs. For most children, that’s effectively the end of literacy.
2) Inane Math Instruction. New Math and Reform Math mix advanced concepts with elementary arithmetic, guaranteeing that children are confused and make no progress. Inefficient methods are taught. The rhetoric is that children are learning the meaning behind the numbers. For young children, this is an absurd notion. How many adults know what the meaning is behind 5+2 = 7?
3) Contempt For Knowledge. Everywhere in the public schools, we hear this whine: “Why would children need to know THAT?” Many schools scorn the very notion that there is anything in particular the children need to know, even such basics as who was George Washington and how many ounces are in a pound. Nobody points out that learning stuff can be fun in itself.
4) Inefficient Teaching Methods. Constructivism is the main problem in the public schools. This method requires that teachers stop teaching; they must stand passively aside. Meanwhile children are supposed to figure out everything for themselves. This will be a slow and incoherent process, especially for children who don’t know much when they show up at school.
5) Busywork Is The Norm. There is lots of homework. Children are encouraged to work on large, impressive-sounding projects and to fill up portfolios. The emphasis is on “activity,” a word that John Dewey loved. Knowledge is not primary. Interacting with other students is a goal in itself.
6) Contempt For Accuracy and Precision. Many public schools have abandoned cursive writing. The idea of one correct answer is ridiculed. There is a pervasive acceptance of guessing, fuzziness, approximations, being late, and sloppiness in general. Children are told to explain how they got an answer but it doesn’t matter if the answer is right. (There are better ways to go.)
7) Obsession with Political Correctness and Social Engineering. Ever since the time of John Dewey, “progressive” educators have promoted the idea that the schools are there, not to teach knowledge, but to indoctrinate children into accepting a new kind of society.
8) Parents Are Unable To Influence The Schools. The public is kept confused and distracted by policy discussions about secondary things. Issues that really matter are cloaked in jargon and propaganda. Education’s intellectual machinery is busted.
9) Inferior Preparation Of Teachers. To put it bluntly, teachers are prepared to provide the bad education that most of them are now providing. It’s not their fault. It’s the fault of an Education Establishment that is far more interested in socialist ideology that in making sure the children are well-educated.
Bruce Deitrick Price’s education site is Improve-Education.org. (His four new novels are presented on his literary site Lit4u.com)