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‘Obstacles’ Category

  1. Quit or persist with ed reform?

    October 9, 2017 by Tunya

    Paul Bennett is a long-time education reformer.  He just posted on Facebook his photo of 30 years ago as a school trustee candidate. He also has the blog, Educhatter   I wrote this note on his Facebook page:

    Thanks, Paul.
    On this Thanksgiving Day I am so grateful that you have not dropped out of the ed reform efforts. You have such a stockpile of experiences, insights and knowledge it would be a pity for us to lose your perspective and continuing zeal. It’s so tempting to quit. So many I know are so, so relieved to leave the pain and hopelessness. Ed improvement sabotage is so frustrating, infuriating, exasperating, maddening, sad . . . Thanks for being there and not giving up. Hope to see visible responsiveness in our lifetime!


    [Discouraging is another word I should have used.]

  2. Is Illiteracy the goal ?

    August 21, 2017 by Tunya

    What if illiteracy is the goal after all? Shouldn’t parents be informed which schools are committed to literacy — and which are not? Then parents could choose if they want their children to be able to read and think for themselves or just be a member of a collaborating community?

    Kevin Donnelly has just raised the question of Marxism in Australian schools and Greg mentions “Marxism-inspired critical literacy”.

    Please read the Australian, Aug 21, Wear it Purple Day and other cultural-left moves sending us puce —

    It’s important for people who do value reading, and who believe in proven methods, to appreciate the climate that prevails in some schools. From Kevin’s story and the comments it seems that, according to a former Education Minister (Joan Kirner, 1983), that education should not be “an instrument of the capitalist system” but “part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change.” What chance is there for phonics in such a climate?

    [published as comment to Greg Ashman’s blog, Filling the Pail, topic What Australian Parents Need to Know About the Reading Wars, August 12 ]


  3. Effective Schools – Cassandra Effect

    August 9, 2017 by Tunya

    Cassandra Speaks on Education . . .

    Cassandra Speaks on Education . . .

    As a parent, now grandparent, activist in the traditionalist camp from the northern hemisphere (British Columbia, Canada) I can attest to the truth of these observations by Greg from Australia. But will his insights be heeded?

    Fads and defensiveness seem to be perennial features in the education industry.

    Fortunately, for future generations of kids, we are seeing a surge toward evidence-based practice. Organizers behind the researchEd programs currently spearhead this move. I know Greg has been active in helping this movement in Australia. Canada will soon see this event here.

    Tom Bennett from the UK has been the leader in this movement and in April I found myself comparing Tom’s work and articles with the leading lights of an earlier era. You might want to visit my short essay — Effective Schools Movement: 40 Years Ago

    I referred to the remarkably discerning work done by Ron Edmonds on Effective Schools and noted that #8 of his checklist was imperative: “Avoidance of Pitfalls — Up-to-date awareness of good educational practice plus retaining currency in the field concerning promising and discredited practices.”

    I applaud Greg for bringing forth his arguments again and again. What will it take for those in the education field to practice what they preach?


    [my comment to Greg Ashman blog, Filling the Pail, 5 ways to damage a good school]


  4. Evidence-based education — When?

    July 30, 2017 by Tunya

    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 —

    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:

    [2nd comment posted 31 July, 2017]

  5. Betrayal of enlightenment purpose

    July 28, 2017 by Tunya

    What betrayal is this? Those who are to assist the enlightenment of the masses are in actual alliance to thwart and undermine the cause. Teacher education faculties are actually anti-enlightenment champions? Who would have thought?

    Professor Mark Bauerlein in a book review (The Long Crusade: Profiles in Education Reform—1967-2014, by Raymond Wolters) is appalled how E D Hirsch was shunned after his book “Cultural Literacy” proved to be a phenomenal best-seller — “ed school faculty had urged all the students to stay away” from his class.

    Deliberate dumbing down is real, folks! And faculties of education in the United States and Canada endorse it!

    And it’s not just literature and culture that are attacked. Math doesn’t make sense — see the Math Petitions that parents are mounting. What about reading?

    Marilyn Jager Adams in a new foreword to the paperback edition of Jeanne Chall’s book, “The Academic Achievement Challenge “‘ says: “ . . . 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 . . . “

    What about Science? Here is a scientist, Michael R Matthews, who wrote — Reflections on 25 Years of Journal Editorship. It’s about how constructivism was injected into the teaching of science to the point that the search for truth through science became decidedly “anti-enlightenment”! I can’t find a link for free reading (as I had earlier). I wrote and asked in 2015 whether his article “ruffled any feathers”. Basically, he said: “No. Silence”.

    When will there be a full-scale investigation into how faculties of education are undermining our civilization? When will there be a Bill Gates who really believes in education to help fund such a study?

    Thanks Will Fitzhugh for the post alerting us to this treachery. What can be done?

    [Published to listserve, ECC, Educ Consumers Clearinghouse, re excerpt from a two page review of Wolter's book, which I've ordered.)


    …Those are all reasons sufficient in themselves to have students and young scholars read the book [The Long Crusade: Profiles in Education Reform—1967-2014, by Raymond Wolters]. But there is something about education training that makes it especially valuable. A moment in the career of E.D. Hirsch, Jr. demonstrates it (Wolters mentions it and Hirsch has recalled it several times in his writings). When Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know became a surprise bestseller after it was published in 1987 [The year The Concord Review was founded—WF], Hirsch approached the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia (UVA) to offer a course to their students. Hirsch was a longtime member of UVA’s English department  and a renowned literary theorist. (When I was in graduate school in the 1980s, everyone read his essay on literary interpretation.)

    With Cultural Literacy standing as the most phenomenal education book of the time, Hirsch expected education students to flood his class. Even if they disagreed with his ideas, they could argue with him, not to mention enjoy the opportunity to engage with one of the most influential thinkers of the moment.

    But that’s not what happened. To his surprise, few students showed up. Hirsch learned why when one of them revealed that the ed school faculty had urged all the students to stay away. Their professors didn’t encourage students to join the class and challenge Hirsch—they told them to avoid him altogether.

    It brought a dismaying realization: education theory and practice had become so hardened that ed schools simply didn’t want to hear anything contrary. Students receive the idea and principles taught in ed school as if they are the received wisdom of the profession. If other opinions slip into the training, they do so in caricatured form, such as the allegation that Hirsch simply wanted to reinstate a Eurocentric dead-white-male curriculum…

    Professor Mark Bauerlein, book review in Academic Questions  National Association of Scholars, Spring 2017, pp. 108-109