How do parents find a good school? Public schools are not only paralyzed by dozens of bad ideas, but schools seem intentionally designed so parents can’t understand what’s really going on inside the classrooms. It is probably more practical to be alert to danger signals that can be seen from a distance. Here is a checklist of the top eight signs you don’t want your child to be at this school:

1) READING: The most important skill is reading. If you hear any mention of Whole Words, Sight Words, Dolch Words, Fry Words, or Balanced Literacy, run the other way. English is in alphabetic/phonetic language and should be taught phonetically. Children should immediately learn the alphabet and that letters represent sounds. (There seem to be five or 10 good phonics programs available. I’m not convinced the little differences matter. What’s been killing us is this one big difference: teaching basic alphabetic information or NOT teaching it. Any synthetic phonics program, mixed with poetry Phonics advocates report that virtually all of their students learn to read by age 7. Whole Word advocates say children must memorize a few hundred words each year, in which case I will be effectively illiterate until high school.)

2) MATHEMATICS: The next most important thing is arithmetic. If you hear any mention of Reform Math, run the other way. (Reform Math is an umbrella term for at least 10 different programs, with names like Everyday Math, Connected Math, MathLand, TERC, CPM, etc.) These programs tend to push advanced concepts to kids who don’t even know how to add 10 and 16. These shows like to use obscure methods and algorithms so that kids end up confused and scattered. The proper goal is for children to master basic arithmetic, for example easily adding and subtracting one- and two-digit numbers. They then move on to multiplying and dividing one and two digit numbers. There should be no use of calculators, no “spiraling” from one subject to another, no mention of college level concepts.

3) KNOWLEDGE: The next most important thing is that children are expected to gain knowledge. This used to be ordinary; but for 75 years our educators have waged war against content, facts, and memorization. “They can look for it” is a big red flag. To study history, for example, children are required to first learn the names of oceans, continents, rivers, mountains, and countries. Basic geography should be a staple during the early years; There should be maps in every classroom, both of the US and the world. In general, in all subjects, children should be taught the simplest information first, the essentials, the foundational knowledge, all in preparation for studying the subject at a higher level. If children do not learn the names of the oceans in first grade, they are not in a school but in a childcare service.

4) SCIENCE: Children must be taught, from the beginning, the rudiments of science and scientific thinking. For example, children can look at common objects and tell if they are animals, plants, or minerals. Children should be able to talk about water changing from a solid to a liquid to a vapor. Older children should be able to discuss the different types of problems dealt with by doctors, chemists, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, etc. Studying simple maps, diagrams, charts, illustrations, and plans is a good sign. (Put another way, I can’t imagine a bad school would think of teaching kids to understand simple diagrams in first grade.)

5) CONSTRUCTIVISM: One of the big fads that is trending in some public schools is called constructivism. (It can appear in the teaching of any subject). The gifts are phrases like “build new knowledge”, “guide by your side”, “prior knowledge”, “learning strategies”, etc. All of this is in direct contrast to direct instruction, in which expert teachers teach what they know better than anyone else in the room. “A Wise Man on a Stage” is exactly what kids need. Constructivism devalues ​​the skill and preparation that good teachers bring to the classroom; and helps to hide the bad training of bad teachers. Constructivism guarantees that instruction will move slowly and become fragmented.

6) FASHIONS RUN CREEP: Other popular fads to avoid include: Self Esteem (where children are constantly praised and rewarded with good grades even if they do a poor job); Cooperative learning (where children are constantly forced to work in groups so that they never learn to think for themselves); critical thinking (where children are encouraged to engage in thoughtful discussions on topics they know little about); Creativity Curriculum (where play with the arts is given prominence on the learning of knowledge); and Fuzzy Anything (where kids are allowed to guess, make up weird spellings and weird grammar without proofreading, being wrong but still scored correct). All of these are warning signs.

7) GOALS: Perhaps the most distinctive feature of good schools is that they talk about what will be taught and what will be achieved. There are goals and expectations. There is a feeling that the school has a map and has walked the path many times before. Bad schools are distinguished by an endless litany of excuses and alibis. There is a feeling that these schools do not have clear goals and do not really expect to make much progress. In bad schools, a lot of what happens is actually a kind of fantasy where kids are kept busy doing make-believe work that doesn’t add up to much. Perhaps the most disgusting part of the whole charade is that some of these schools will pretend that they are being considerate of the children, that they don’t want to put too much pressure on them and don’t want to expose the shortcomings of poor children. and minority children. All this, it seems to me, is just plain nonsense, not to say racist. Kids need to be challenged and pushed, not to the point where they give up, but to the point where they think, “Wow, watch me go.”

8) SECURITY: A signal that cuts through all the others could be called basic order and security. Schools should be safe, law-abiding, and predictable places. The point is that children must be able to relax so that they can learn. A school of fear ceases to be a school. The director (comparable to the mayor and sheriff of a small town) is a crucial figure in this paradigm: he or she sets the tone. Principals explain goals and policies to students and parents; Principals motivate and support teachers. (This could be called the Main Principle.)

Resume: The Tao of Education is very simple. Learning the basics and academics is the goal and the path to that goal. Facts and knowledge are the lifeblood of the classroom. Teaching must be as creative as possible; schools should be fun and students should smile a lot. But the whole process has to go somewhere, it has to move forward. At the end of each day, students know more than the day before. The problem with American education is that elite educators have moved away from knowledge-based education (a/k/a cognitive learning) toward feelings-based education (a/k/a affective learning).

Many psychotherapeutic biases were mixed with a disregard for facts and a disregard for foundational knowledge, including even literacy. The result, as expected, would be a mediocre and very stupid school, such as can be found in any American city. The solution is to ignore the bad ideas that caused the problem, move away from the fussy clichés, and seriously try to serve students by giving them the best possible preparation for the rest of their lives.

By admin

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