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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. Ed Wars — crimes against Humanity

    August 23, 2016 by Tunya

    The Education Wars Are Also Crimes Against Humanity

    Geoffrey York is to be praised for reporting on the International Criminal Court’s latest case dealing with crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This case dealt with willful cultural destruction. The individual who pleaded guilty said he was “really remorseful”, and apologized for falling under the influence of “deviant” and “evil” people when he instigated destruction of religious monuments in Timbuktu.

    I want to make the case that the current Education Wars — Reading War, Math War and Science War — be referred to the ICC as soon as possible, not only for damage already done but yet to be committed under the category of crimes against humanity.

    1 The guilty Timbuktu person admitted he was under the influence of “deviant” and “evil” people. In education we have so many fads proliferating. The absolute worst of all being the current 21st Century transformation shift from skills and knowledge to “discovery learning” where students are to “construct” their own knowledge. None of this constructivism is evidence-based, is actually anti-enlightenment and spreads via malicious Groupthink. These are some of the features of Groupthink: a type of hysterical excitement takes over; the opportunity is there without opposition; there is a belief that this is the correct thing to do; and the individual is not held responsible because it’s a group thing.

    2 In the Reading War and Math War there is a deliberate withholding by many teachers of the standard long-held methods of mastering the basics before going into creative, exploratory exercises. Instead, today, students are urged to read by “guessing” words from the pictures attached and urged to do math by “discovering” things instead of memorizing the times tables, for example.

    3 In the Science War this “child-centered teaching” downgrades textbooks and is “not to teach content but to help students become mini-scientists”. (Nova Scotia curriculum) There must be “group work” which is just as likely to discover ignorance as it is any “truths” that might happen.

    4 Students complain that teachers don’t teach. The teacher mantra is “Learning is caught, not taught!” A Society for Quality Education (SQE) report on science teaching concludes “One might hope that science teachers, in particular, might . . . be willing to question the continual ebb and flow of fads and quackery in education.” — Teaching Science in the 21st Century

    5 Now here is the kicker. There is a massive effort to be launched called the EGRA project. Look it up — Early Grade Reading Assessment to bring English literacy to illiterate areas of the developing world. In the Toolkit is this ominous one sentence: “The reading ‘wars’ are alive and well in many low-income countries, often miring ministries of education and teaching centers in seemingly endless debates between the ‘whole-language’ and ‘phonics-based’ approaches.” (p4) Now this goes beyond unethical. Is it not a crime against humanity to let loose a project, which is open to appropriation by a method or methods discredited, lead to spiteful contests, and that will predictably cause harm instead of good?

    Would Geoffrey York or someone with standing please refer this matter to the ICC?

    [comment in G&M story, ECC, EDUCAN, FB]


  3. How Mass Hysteria Spreads In Education

    August 9, 2016 by Tunya

    How Mass Hysteria Spreads In Education

    No other discipline — medicine, engineering, accountancy, judiciary, architecture . . . — is so rife with fads and fallacies as in education. Of course, the case to be made is that because it is SO undisciplined, education should not qualify to be called a discipline or profession at all!

    This little essay will not go into listing all the fads that have beset education — the ita alphabet, the self-esteem movement, learning mathematics through “discovery”, learning to read through guessing, (reading is “caught” not “taught”) etc., etc. I will go into the “why’s”.

    One may wonder why a field, which purports to be a helping profession, so frequently goes chasing after one passionate belief after another, trying new theories and experiments without any proof of positive results and to actually keep persisting long after something has been undeniably discredited. Can’t this do harm? Can’t this be open to malpractice suits?

    Very few have pondered the “why’s” of the matter so as to circumvent future faddishness. Professor Patrick Groff (1924-1914) who wrote on how to prevent reading failure had a few points to make on the topic of why so many teachers adopted Whole-language in so many countries, despite contrary evidence of effectiveness.

    “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 . . . ”

    Add to Groff’s insights the information of how groupthink occurs and you have the ingredients of mass hysteria that the author of this Huffington piece claims overwhelms the education field. Coming down the pike are some very serious, calculated efforts to install what seems like yet another fad — Social-Emotional Learning — and we should be prepared to closely examine the validity of this effort and and not fall for yet another passionate fad.

    [Above is the comment made to the Huffington story. Also sent to Education Consumers Clearinghouse Aug 09,’16]


  4. Jeanne Chall, reading expert, treated “shabbily”

    August 8, 2016 by Tunya

    “ . . . reviewing the research on phonics, Chall told me that if I wrote the truth, I would lose old friends and make new enemies. She warned me that I would never again be fully accepted by my academic colleagues . . . Sadly, however, as the evidence in favor of systematic, explicit phonics instruction for beginners increased, so too did the vehemence and nastiness of the backlash. The goal became one of discrediting not just the research, but the integrity and character of those who had conducted it. Chall was treated most shabbily . . . “

    Persist & Find The Paperback Edition, 2002

    When acquiring the Jeanne Chall book — The Academic Achievement Challenge — it's worth getting the edition that contains the foreword by Marilyn Jager Adams: "In a new foreword to the paperback edition, Marilyn Jager Adams reflects on Chall's deep-rooted commitment to and enduring legacy in educating America's children. "

    If you are either a teacher or otherwise very interested/concerned about the field of education you will grasp what a contested field it is. Most of the public and practitioners simply do not know that this field is plagued by rivalries, which seriously intrude and harm both the teacher side and the student side.

    There are a number of angles to be aware of: a) political — left or right philosophies, certain their view is correct about what’s best; b) economic — there's big bucks in the competitive publishing business; c) belief systems that verge on group-think and mass hysteria when fads proliferate and defy reason. You may know of other categories of disputes in the field.

    For example, Rick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, sees progressives as dominating the ed reform discussions & efforts — 90 to 10 percent. Conservatives have little "refuge", he says.

    But, there is a third force (besides the progressive and traditional) which is completely marginalized in these contests — the purely practical side — teaching and learning via what works and is evidence-based. What the 21st Century needs is education free of partisanship, free of greedy self-seeking profiteering, free of hysterical faddism and free of downright laziness in avoiding the discipline of proper pedagogy. But, Chall promoted what worked and was treated "shabbily". (See quote in my previous comment.)

    Parents, who are legally, and in reality, those ultimately responsible for their children’s well-being and education are frustrated that the trade, industry, field, whatever (hard to call it a “profession”) is so prone to dissension and lack of self-control and self-regulation. Even more frustrating is the field’s tendency to sideline critics and parents as if “the system” has achieved some mantle of “social license” to keep blundering along.

    If you want to do right in this trade, it's advisable to know the landmines! This foreword by Adams is the most succinct statement I have yet to find in the literature that warns about the insider problems fueling the Reading Wars, Math Wars, and Science Wars — real obstacles to practical education today.

    People who respect the art and science of teaching and seek the best choices for children eagerly await the emergence of some practical standards to guide the future of education. At present, there is a real crisis of confidence about the field of education, both within the field and amongst the public in general.

    [Apologies for this editorial. I just meant to pass on the information about the important foreword in the paperback edition, 2002, of Chall’s book, which contains a key insight into her contribution and travails. Got carried away because while the School Wars continue to do havoc, there are few writings that actually describe or even hint at these invisible hindrances to education.]

    [comment to]

  5. Reading Wars continue harm

    August 6, 2016 by Tunya

    Reading Wars — Is It Ethical To Keep Spreading The Damage?

    Which other field other than education would allow their patients, clients or students to suffer harm from withholding best practice?

    A review of Jeanne Chall’s many positive contributions to advancing the art and science of teaching to read brings forth ethical questions — still unresolved. Many questions are being posed why functional illiteracy still persists, especially amongst certain groups: racial minority children, boys and children in poverty.

    Unfortunately it is an ideologically polarized “war” that continues to affect the reading scores and lives of many children. Discussion of the issues is to invite strong feelings, which hinder forthright action.
    In the forward to the paperback edition of Chall’s book, “The Academic Achievement Challenge” (2002) the foreword by Marilyn Jager Adams has this to say:

    “ . . . reviewing the research on phonics, Chall told me that if I wrote the truth, I would lose old friends and make new enemies. She warned me that I would never again be fully accepted by my academic colleagues . . . Sadly, however, as the evidence in favor of systematic, explicit phonics instruction for beginners increased, so too did the vehemence and nastiness of the backlash. The goal became one of discrediting not just the research, but the integrity and character of those who had conducted it. Chall was treated most shabbily . . . “

    Now, we are hearing about an enthusiastic program by various philanthropic and government agencies (World Bank, World Vision, etc.) to spread literacy to underdeveloped countries. There is a toolkit available, but within the very document — EARLY GRADE READING. ASSESSMENT TOOLKIT. March 30, 2009 — is this one hint of predictable trouble ahead:

    “The reading ‘wars’ are alive and well in many low-income countries, often miring ministries of education and teaching centers in seemingly endless debates between the ‘whole-language’ and ‘phonics-based’ approaches.”

    What’s to be done? Isn’t there a “right to know” that a community at the receiving end of a do-good project should have access to — pros and cons? Aren’t there any ethical protocols that guide projects in developing countries that are mounted by outsiders? I have no means to warn these countries or to stall these do-gooders from exporting foreign wars, albeit reading wars without bloodshed, into innocent countries. I’m just a granny seeing the education field being horribly irresponsible, for rich and poor countries alike. It’s ALL children who are denied the power of reading who are poorer. And society!

    If the education system is still full of nastiness, as it was for Jeanne Chall, is there any hope? Then “the system” needs to be abandoned.

  6. Matthews Reflections – a “must” read

    July 25, 2016 by Tunya

    Absolutely MUST Reading
    Here is a teacher who LOVES civilization, the Enlightenment, children, teaching Science, the Scientific Method, the concept of continuity of life — Here he was at the frontlines of the art and science of teaching Science to the young — Here is what he saw for 25 years of his life as he edited a Journal devoted to these teachers who teach Science — Here he saw the tentative, then ever more assertive, incursions by Constructivists who had learned from the Reading and Math Wars how to flummox * the Science; how to embed; how to seed self-doubt; how to turn truth–seekers into relativists, etc., etc.

    √ #1 Please see the post on July 18 about Constructivism and the two comments today, one from a concerned teacher and my comment (a concerned grandmother) on our fears. Link to Michael Matthews FREE article.

    If you study the History of Education and how the theme of creating “The New Man” pervades so much of the literature — well you haven’t seen anything yet! There is so much that is being hatched right now, via school changes — employing the latest through cognitive and neural science; through data mining using school devices; through cultural norming; applying artificial intelligence; and through a host of sophisticated media techniques — that the sooner we clue in the better. Post-human is not just Science Fiction any longer!

    √ #2 Again, read #1 above and/or read Sections 10, 11, 12 of this FREE article by this professor who fervently wishes for the “demise of constructivism”, and in personal correspondence says: “everyone recognizes that constructivist-taught children can’t read, can’t add up, can’t understand or do science … but no one wants to take responsibility” (note: permission granted to use his comments)
    * Flummox — confuse, perplex, stun, stump, baffle, bewilder, flabbergast, confound, mystify, bamboozle, deceive . . . . . . . .