Something’s wrong/nothing’s wrong, Dept.

Again, an op-ed  showing that people know something’s wrong while being told by school administrators and departments of education that how it was done in the past (when it worked) was wrong, and now we have a better way (which doesn’t work).  The current term for such subterfuge is called “gaslighting”. Another term is “willful ignorance”.

It is prevalent in education and the reason why many people advocating for change, sooner or later, give up trying to change the trend of ineffective faddish practices.

I heard a fellow teacher say recently that she uses “stations” in her class (i.e., a project-based activity in which students rotate among various tables doing various tasks, in groups) because middle schoolers’ attention span does not exceed 13 minutes. While short attention spans cannot be denied, there are other ways of breaking up a lesson, such as asking questions, having students solve problems, or a host of other activities, such as has been done effectively.

Here is a brief list of the various fads and beliefs that pass as effective education.

Productive struggle

Inquiry-based learning

Project-based learning

Problem-based learning

Growth mindset


Student-centered learning

Three-before-me (teacher doesn’t answer a question until student has asked 3 other students the question)

Depth of Knowledge

Bloom’s Taxonomy

                              Feel free to add others.

USA Today story; another look

The USA Today story I talked about the other day  is quite long and addresses many facets of the problem. Unfortunately, it is horribly misinformed, and even more unfortunately, many people reading it will believe it.

There’s one paragraph that was disturbing to me about the results of a test called PISA:

“The approach has led other countries to success. Teens in the Netherlands post some of the strongest math scores in the world on the PISA assessment. That’s largely because the exam prioritizes the application of mathematical concepts to real-life situations, and the Dutch teach math rooted in reality and relevant to society. Some longtime Dutch math experts were involved in the design of PISA, which began in 2000 and is given every three years to a sample of 15-year-old students in developed countries and economies.”

The method that the Dutch use to teach math is known as RME: Realistic Mathematics Education, and originated in the Hans Freudenthal Institute. Despite valid criticism of it, like most things in education, bad ideas get touted as the silver bullet and RME is no exception. So I refer you to a post by Greg Ashman in which he analyzes PISA results, showing that inquiry-based learning (which is a large part of the RME method) is not what its touted to be by so called experts, nor USA Today.