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    March 17, 2013 by Tunya

    Today freedom has different enemies.

    It must be fought for in different ways.

    It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.

                                                   – John Holt (1923-1985 home education pioneer)


  2. e d hirsch “wave” of ed reform – I

    October 9, 2015 by Tunya

    Catching The WAVE Of Knowledge-based Education Reform — The GOOD NEWS (Part I)

    If there ever was a flipped classroom for adults to QUICK-LEARN about education reform it is here.

    But, first let me explain. Flipped classroom is the style of teaching where the students do their homework as assigned reading at home, then come to the classroom to discuss with the teacher what was learned and prepped ahead.

    Ed reform has had so many varieties over the ages so it’s hard to know where to start. VERY DISAPPOINTING are the books and articles which end up saying: And what you can do about it. (I’ve found over a dozen!) So, how many of us got NOWHERE?

    Anyway, after 4 decades of experience, I think this Hirsch Wave is one of the best things ever — for TWO REASONS:

    1 Knowledge-based curriculum is back in vogue, having been dismissed and deleted because knowledge was to be “constructed” meaningfully from the context of students’ experiences, and besides, content is obtainable “on the Internet”!

    2 Knowledge-backed approach is gaining headway — away from the philosophical belief mindsets of past education leaders. Proof, evidence, research, best practice and other similar objective criteria are coming to the fore — challenging feel-good, subjective theories.

    The best “flipped classroom” on the topic of Ed Reform is right here — Educhatter — on the Core Knowledge Curriculum. [Thanks P Bennett.]

    After reading the whole article you’ll want to follow-up the 11 links provided before engaging in the brouhaha. There is much food for thought, enlightenment and material for advancing the much needed reforms.

    My suggestion is to start with #10— an articulate father (Sol Stern) having travelled the trusting-parent-to-dubious-parent-to activist-parent route.

  3. E D Hirsch “wave” of Ed Reform – II

    October 9, 2015 by Tunya

    Catching The WAVE Of Knowledge-based Education Reform — The GOOD NEWS (Part II)

    Links from “Knowledge Matters: Why is the Core Knowledge Curriculum Experiencing a Revival? Sept 21, 2015 by Paul W. Bennett:

    1 Cultural literacy: Michael Gove's school of hard facts By Fran Abrams, BBC Education & Family Section, 25 October 2012 [Hirsch effect on Gove, former UK Ed Sec]

    2 Knowledge & the Curriculum: A Collection of essays to accompany E D Hirsch lecture at Policy Exchange, 17 Sept’15, 83pg

    3 34 customer reviews. For over 50 years, American schools have operated under the assumption that challenging children academically is unnatural . . . teachers don’t need to know the subjects . . . All this is tragically wrong”. [The 1999 PB issue is worth the extra 2pg intro, reporting progress over last 3 yrs from the ’96 issue.]

    4 “Certain things then follow from that”: Notes on ED Hirsch’s Policy Exchange lecture [Another link here provides further links of reports from Hirsch talk including link to transcript AND voice recording of Hirsch.]

    5 Michael Gove speaks about the future of education reform July 10, 2014

    6 egalitarian concept as noted in link #4 above, Daisy’s report. [Note: Hirsch, in his book (pg7) denies that his educational standpoint is either “traditional” or “progressive”. He says: “It is pragmatic.”]

    7 link to #5 above, relating to the state of Massachusetts having adopted the core knowledge curriculum, topping achievement scores and called the Massachusetts Miracle.

    8 Reading Comprehension Requires Knowledge— of Words and the World Scientific Insights into the Fourth-Grade Slump and the Nation’s Stagnant Comprehension Scores, E D Hirsch, 2003, 14 pg

    9 link to #5 above relating to 1993 Education Reform Act

    10 The Redemption of E. D. Hirsch How my kids’ progressive school helped teach me the value of a content-rich curriculum, Dec’13, Sol Stern, 6pg [reading Hirsch showed how progressive fads “did more harm than good” . . . most devastating consequence of these doctrines was that they widened, rather than reduced, the gap in intellectual capital between middle-class children and those from disadvantaged families.”]

    11 The Hirsch Effect, Mary Myatt report from the Hirsch lecture, Sept’15. [1 pg, 4 more links]

    [published in Educhatter]



  4. discontented teachers easy targets for “fads”

    October 4, 2015 by Tunya

    Why Is The Education Industry Such A Breeding Ground For Fads ?

    Why do we despair that education — unlike medicine, engineering, architecture, or practically any other field of human endeavor — is so immune to research-based best practice? Experimentation of all sorts prevails — untested and without any protocols and safeguards to protect the young, captive audience aujects. Will there ever be a huge law case to sue for damages and harms? Why is research that clearly proves sheer and unmitigated poor outcomes ignored? How can costs keep escalating without any demonstrable benefits to students? Questions proliferate about the contradictions — how impervious the industry is to rational change — how persistent some practices remain regardless of their poor results. On, and on, and on, flow the questions.

    I’ve written earlier about the theory that GROUPTHINK SYNDROME might explain some of the contradictory and sometimes downright malignant behaviors seen in education —

    Some people hope that common sense may someday prevail: Not likely! Others think that technology will bring effective practices forward to help our young people gain a good education.

    Well, beware! Here are explanations provided by Professor P Groff why Whole-Language (a very shaky teaching of reading method) gained such a rapid and lasting following —

    “The Special Attractions of Whole-Language (WL)

    1 . . . educators historically have been notorious for their inability to resist the lures of educational innovations, regardless of whether or not they have been empirically validated.

    2 . . . WL relieves educators of much direct personal accountability for the results . . .

    3 . . . WL appeals to many educators’ romantic and/or humanistic interpretations of what is healthy child development . . . honoring children’s freedom and dignity is held to be more essential than how literate they become.

    4 . . . in the past, educators have ignored or rejected most of the empirical findings in practically all aspects of their field of endeavor.

    5 . . .the apparent simplicity of WL is alluring for teachers . . . With WL, teachers do not have to submit to pedagogical discipline that a prescribed course of direct and systematic instruction demands.

    6 . . . educators who have liberal social, economic, and political views doubtless are charmed by WL’s decidedly left-wing agenda . . . ”

    Groff goes on to mention these other factors — monopoly control of public schools, grade inflation, absence of rigorous examinations of teachers seeking certification, and parents’ seeming indifference towards the schools as “conditions [that] create a breeding ground for the emergence of empirically unverified educational innovations . . .”


    [SQE 20151004]

  5. Malicious “group think” in education

    September 30, 2015 by Tunya

    Malicious Groupthink Explains 21 C Learning Fiascoes — Personalized Learning Plan Rollout

    For at least 5 years now we in Canada, as elsewhere in the English-speaking Free World, have seen “school turnaround gurus” traveling between points spreading 21st Century Learning Plans. This became Common Core in the US and variations on the theme — Personalized Learning in BC, Inspired Learning in Alberta, Achieving Excellence in Ontario.

    Two months before our BC Provincial Election (May 2013) an Education Ministry official, after describing the BC Ed Plan to a parent group, said: “Regardless which political party gets in, the plan goes ahead. It’s global transformation.” (Implication: It’s unstoppable!)

    This was rather shocking. In BC we have distinctly singular political parties — from Communist to Socialist to Liberal to Conservative to Libertarian to Less Work party, etc. — running in elections. None of these parties take their marching orders from anywhere but from the local BC electorate! Not from some global entity!

    Just where does this “global transformation” plan come from? We do know that the Alberta’s “tall poppy” excellent school achievement reputation was irksome to some and had to be cut down. This leveling-down (dumbing-down some would say) is now being accomplished.

    But in the UK the “constructivist” agenda driving 21st C Learning agenda — to construct and discover new knowledge and drop old knowledge — is being replaced by a revival of core knowledge curriculum. Thanks to the voices of a few outspoken educators and through books like E D Hirsch’s — The Schools We Need and why we don’t have them. See papers from a recent UK lecture — Knowledge and Curriculum

    Nonetheless, pell-mell, we in BC are proceeding with this “global transformation” — untested, imposed and without safeguards governing human experimentation or proper training of teachers. But, lo ! The Ministry of Ed IS appropriating 2 instructional days for PD on this new curriculum. 2,000 teachers will be selected to lead the PD. One must ask: Are parents to get $40 day to find alternate education or day care provision as they did when teachers went on strike last year ?

    I think the Groupthink Syndrome aptly applies to this massive effort being mounted internationally and gathering recruits — like some mass hysteria or religious crusade. I’m not the only one doing groupthink analysis on this juggernaut but I get my clues from this paper — Victims of Groupthink by Paul't Hart —

    Some of the symptoms are:

    – illusion of invulnerability

    – belief in inherent morality of the group

    – direct pressure on dissenters

    – stereotype of out-groups

    – avoiding the influx of outside opinions

    – consensus-building, concurrence-seeking

    – driven by perceptions of opportunity

    – “the group”, not individuals will stand accountable for any problems

  6. Whole-Language Fall-out

    September 18, 2015 by Tunya

    Whole-Language Baggage Continues To Clutter Education Agendas 

    It’s true — I’m finding out as I research the whole-language movement — it was never just about teaching reading. Whole-language has religious, ideological overtones. It sets out to shape the holistic, humanistic child. It attracts discontented teachers.

    Reading — the physical act of reading — is a straightforward skill taught engaging the language hemisphere of the brain. English is a phonetic language. Decoding takes patience, but once learned (and taught), also becomes a transferable aptitude applicable to other challenges beyond reading.

    Whole-language approach is a huge package of social and emotional learning, emphasizing “guessing” of sight words, and encompasses school experiences far beyond primary years when basic reading should have been mastered and “reading to learn” replacing “learning to read”.

    It’s a long, unpleasant story — the Reading Wars. Started in 1898 by John Dewey who called phonics a “drill” and perversion he helped set in motion the collectivist/progressive movement in education, “learning by doing”, and we still reap the dubious and damaging “rewards” in 21st C Learning initiatives in our Western English-speaking world.

    The late Samuel Blumenfeld (The New Illiterates, Crimes of the Educators) quotes in his book on Homeschooling the words of Dr. Seuss on the matter:

    “That damned ‘Cat in the Hat’ . . . I did it for a textbook house and they sent me a word list. That was due to the Dewey revolt in the Twenties, in which they threw out phonic reading and went to word recognition . . . I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country . . . there were two hundred and twenty-three words to use in this book . . . I read the list three times and I almost went out of my head. I said, I’ll read it once more and if I can find two words that rhyme that’ll be the title of my book . . . I found ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ and I said, ‘The title will be ‘The Cat in the Hat.’”

    See more on this viewpoint – see comment :