Written by Bruce Deitrick Price
We hear a lot about bullying as if it’s as common as cheering at a football game.
But who is really the Big Bully in our public schools? Who is throwing their weight around all the time?
More specifically, who is insisting on the use of bad methods that never seem to work better this year than 10 years ago? Who is making lame excuses for poor performance so that nothing seems to get better? Who fills the air with propaganda and sophistry so that no one can think clearly about the issues facing us?
Consider Whole Word. Rudolf Flesch exposed this hoax 60 years ago but it’s embedded in our public schools. Consider Reform Math which parents have been complaining about for 30 years but it’s still confounding students in our public schools. Consider Constructivism, which forbids teachers from teaching. Wouldn’t everyone predict that less is going to be taught? Of course, but this gimmick is more and more embedded in public schools.
What kind of bullies would demand that inferior methods be used? “Let them eat cake” seems to be the Education Establishment’s entire plan.
Now we have the imposition of Common Core Standards, which wants to mandate what happens in every classroom in the country. As a frustrated teacher in Delaware noted: “I call it Common Bore. The idea is that there is no more autonomy in lesson plans and instruction. We have 90 minutes per week of PLC's (Professional Learning Communities) meetings that are designed to encourage us to present information uniformly to our students. That is not realistic when teachers are just as much individuals and have our own 'styles', as are the students we teach. For these reasons, I’m disgusted. I don’t want to teach anymore.”
Another teacher complained on the Internet: “I just read a post in a Charter School discussion group that basically said that CCS requires constructivist education, and that any teacher who didn't like it should be forced out of the profession or leave!”
Common Core Standards sounds more like a control freak’s fantasy than a serious attempt to improve education.
This punitive pattern has been evident for most of the past century, as noted in Siegfried Engelmann’s seminal book "War Against The Schools’s Academic Child Abuse.” Note that phrase: “academic child abuse.” That is what bullies naturally do.
The main feature of Common Core is that the federal government gains power to enforce its favorite clunkers. Looking at dozens of methods across dozens of years, we can see that the essential trick is to find slow, inefficient ways to teach everything. Arguably, that is child abuse. Children become discouraged and exhausted. They give up trying to do things that they can easily do, and this includes fundamental things such as reading and arithmetic. All that students are sure of is that they learn to hate reading and arithmetic.
The second big gimmick is to introduce so many secondary details that the class is distracted and disorganized. Teachers must learn about a student’s prior experiences and their learning styles. Straight-ahead, gung-ho teaching is disparaged.
So the essence of this bullying is to confine children to a small world. They never know what wonderful things education can accomplish and how much fun it can be.
Children cannot analyze the methods used and explain why they fail. It’s the administrators who should stand back and look at what’s done to kids. They can remember their own education. They can contact private schools and see how subjects are taught there. They can call a friend in another city and ask what’s going on in those schools.
There is no excuse for people in a public school to do a bad job. But they go right on doing it. All this bad pedagogy seems to be aimed at what, in the Vietnam era, was called “pacification.” The goal seems to be to freeze students at a mediocre level.
In many schools, everybody is running, running, running but somehow everyone ends up in the same spot. Socialist educators are interested in what they call social justice, which tends to mean uniformity. To get that, you need to do some serious dumbing down.
Suppose you draft people into the military and give them undemanding, incoherent training. If sent off to war, most will be quickly killed because they lack basic skills.
What kind of preparation is that? Many students are not getting proper instruction for life because the bullies in charge won’t let them have it.
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.