Desperately Seeking Evidence-based Practice In Education
There are at least two reasons why we should study the Whole-language experience if evidence-based education practice is a goal.
Dress-Rehearsal: The entire, long, frustrating experience of how this now generally discredited method was initiated and sustained can be seen as dress rehearsal for the fads and untested methods being thrust upon us now. There is considerable literature on this topic, though unfortunately, few confessions by those largely responsible for the error of their ways. This would add considerably to the insights needed to understand how these movements gain traction and overcome opposition. For those opposing some of these new methods for the 21st Century the insights from this study would be enormously beneficial. Is there, maybe, such a book or article already?
Characteristics of the Followers: Not everyone falls for the latest trends and fancies in education. But, during the Whole-Language debates Patrick Groff (1924-2014) did identify six such characteristics:
“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 . . . ”
I will find a link for this Groff article and post it later in case current teachers might be seeking ways not to fall for the enticements placed in their way.
[posted on Filling the Pail blog, topic: Problem-solving does not exist, July 30, 2017]
Desperately Seeking Evidence-based Practice In Education – Supplementary
I said I would provide the link to the full article by Patrick Groff — http://www.readinghorizons.com/research/whole-language-vs-phonics-instruction#special
His more complete article on Whole-Language and how it spread is worth reading for those who are interested in how shaky theories in education proliferate. By going to the link above there is a “click” provided at the bottom for his fuller article plus more from a Journal in 1997 concerned about language and spelling.
I know this post by Greg is about problem-solving as a shaky theory, but generally it’s also about how the education field seems to glom onto unproven fads so easily. There’s a lot of that going on right now. It’s important to call out these questionable practices, and Greg does a fine job of it, but is there hope to squelch bad practices?
Self-esteem was a huge phenomenon pushed in the schools in the last decades. Is current exposure, calling it a “con” or “hoax”, going to sway anyone? See:http://www.educationviews.org/it-quasi-religious-great-self-esteem-con/
[2nd comment posted 31 July, 2017]