"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, December 31, 2005

It's the Pedagogy Stupid

To stay on message during the 1992 presidential campaign, James Carville coined the phrase, "It's the economy stupid" and Bill Clinton got elected. Fast-forward to 2006 and it's still the economy stupid but it's also the pedagogy stupid, or rather, it's the stupid pedagogy.

A recent study on adult literacy by the DoE's National Center for Education Statistics showed a 10 point drop in prose literacy proficiency for graduate students and 10 point drop for college students. As Maggie's Commission on the Future of Higher Education headed by standardista and test-crazed lunatic Charles Miller are busy working on ways to hold colleges accountable for reading abilities of students through the use of more testing, others are questioning whether test-driven reform might actually be responsible for a decline in American literacy.

This editorial writer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution concludes:

"The poor showing on the national literacy assessment even among college grads ought to generate discussion at both state and federal levels about whether test-driven reform is creating better test-takers rather than better readers. As schools concentrate more resources on teaching kids how to bubble in the correct answers on standardized tests, less time is available to develop critical thinking skills."

Hallelujah! Finally, someone with common sense.

The writer also comments, "What's hard to understand is how literacy is falling at the same time that schools are making reading their top priority."

Perhaps she might understand a little better if she had a copy of this article at EducationNews by Daniel Pryzbyla: "Reading First" Dodges NCLB Law.

"Education 'reformers' now in control of the U.S. Dpeartment of Education (DoE) have proclaimed endlessly the need for a "competitive education marketplace." Their Reading First road show aimed at K-3 student fell far short of that sugarcoated economic folly."

Will there be anyone left who still understands the meaning of hypocrisy?

Maggie and her Reading First pushers obviously have their own literacy troubles because NCLB clearly states in Section 6301: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency or school's specific instructional content, academic achievement standards and assessments, curriculum, or programs of instruction, as a condition of eligibility to receive funds under the act."

Pryzbyla suggests, "Now all that's left to be done is print out a copy of NCLB, Section 6301 from this commentary and send it to your local, state and federal elected representatives. It might be the first time they've seen it."

Also, don't forget to tell them -- it's the pedagogy stupid!

1 comment:

  1. Are "critical thinking", "logical thinking" and "cynical thinking" synonymous? If not, what distinguishes them? How would a child given basic phonics instruction by parents and then encouraged to read from age 0 to 6 differ, later in life, from one trained by experts in Whole Language methods and then trained in "critical literacy" (aside from actually being able to read, and to express himself/herself w/o marxist jargon)?

    The public sector unions supported an expanded Federal role in education until their agents (D) lost control of the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal government. Now they claim to support local control. Yes, NCLB is an unconstitutional intrusion into areas of society properly reserved
    to the States or to the people, but that objection is antique. So are: The US Department of Agriculture, Social Security, Medicare, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the federal minimum wage.

    "It's pedagogy, stupid"? I say its stupid pedagogy, which inflicted Whole Language, Whole Math, and numerous other lunatic fads on classroom teachers and vulnerable students. A system which gives to individual parents the power to determine which institution shall receive the taxpayers' K-12 education subsidy would be less susceptible to the waves of pedagogical nonsense which regularly burst from Colleges of Education and wash over the State-monopoly school system. Even the quasi-market of "public school choice", open enrollment across numerous small school districts, would buffer the system from idiotic policy hallucinations better than does the current State-monopoly system.