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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Trouble With Schools

I've been hearing a lot about how rotten schools are, how the kids aren't learning, discipline is non-existent, the buildings are falling apart, millions of dollars are being spent and nobody knows what the problem is, much less what to do about it. I have heard the occasional success story, but I never heard any explanation of why some schools succeeded where others failed, other than the occasional charismatic leader.

Now it seems someone has got a clue. It seems there are some methods/techniques that are more effective than others. Up until now no one has identified just what they were. Part of the story is "classroom management": the art of simply maintaining order in a classroom. Part of it is instructional technique, and part of it is having teachers who not only understand the subject, but understand the difficulties different people face when attempting to understand it.

This story by Elizabeth Green from the New York Times explains it all.

All of which made me wonder how it all got so bad in the first place. What I suspect happened is that many students subconsciously picked up these techniques from their good teachers when they were in school, and then emulated them when they became teachers themselves. If the poor kids schools were bad, well then, what did you expect? It's not our fault they can't learn. We give them the opportunity for an education and they just throw it away. That's why they're poor. It wasn't until the civil rights bandwagon got rolling that anybody thought anything should be done about it. Weird.

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