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Saturday, January 11, 2014

The top ten mistakes in education. Twenty years later.


It has been 20 years since I wrote about the top ten mistakes in education. Although this list is on many places on the web, here is the original link:


The ten mistakes I listed were these (go the site to see what I said about each):

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.
Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role 
Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.
Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
 Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
 Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
 Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
Twenty years have passed. Surely my writing about this and other’s re-posting and writing about this have had a big effect on education. Let’s look at them one by one:

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.

Yes. Things have changed. They are worse. The latest horror is MOOCs which is just more talking and insists on the idea the education means knowledge transfer and that knowledge can be acquired by listening.
Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role 
Yes. Things have really changed here. They are much worse. Before there were just lots of bad tests. Now there are tests at every grade. Tests to get ready for the test. And now -- teacher evaluations based on the tests.

Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.

Wow! This one has gotten even worse than the others. Now it isn’t schools that create standard curricula it is Bill Gates, Common Core, the US Department of Education and every state Department of Education. We sure fixed that one.  
Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
I am not sure about this one. I don’t think teachers think much of anything anymore other than how to survive in a system where they are not valued and teaching doesn’t matter except with respect to test scores.

Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
No change. Still no use for algebra, physics formulae, random knowledge about history or literature. No use for anything taught in school actually, after reading, writing, and arithmetic. 
Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
No change. 
Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
No change. 
 Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
No change.

 Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
Perhaps this has changed. There seems to be a lot less discipline.

 Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
Nah. No one believes that anymore.

I am not only one loudly talking into the wind. There are lots of people who agree with me and say things similar to what I say. 
Is there anyone listening?
Sure. Parents are noticing how stupid the tests are and how stupid Common Core is. The kids are noticing, now more than ever. The teachers are upset.
Is anyone listening to them? No. There is big money at stake in keeping things as they are.
Well, that's the report from 20 years on the front lines. We shall not retreat, but victory looks to be far away.

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