Sunday, September 02, 2007

What's happened to education

I'm so glad I'm not in education any more. You know, any reasonably aware education student from the 60s or 70s could have predicted the results of No Child Left Behind. The research is there for all to see. Why do people make policy on what they think should be the case and don't bother to look at the studies (going back decades) that have actually determined how children really learn and how they don't?

Take a look:

With the start of the new academic year, we focus on school for a short while. School, so important to our community and central to our country’s future, has become increasingly toxic to our children. Recess has been eliminated in many districts, music and art have been discontinued and 25% of school time is now spent on getting ready or taking the state wide tests. Kindergarten is now the new first grade. We should all be concerned but parents are on the front line. Parents, its time to take a stand for our children and say loud and clear: “Enough is enough!”

In the summer of 2005, a conference held at Yale University was attended by 100 early childhood professionals along with leaders in social policy. Visit this site for their complete report:

Here is part of their report with emphasis added:

"Children in the direct instruction programs had higher rates of delinquency, were less willing to help other children, and more likely to experience emotional problems (p. 139). Hart, Yang, Charlesworth, and Burts (2003) confirm these findings in a longitudinal study that directly compared children who received direct instruction with those who received developmentally appropriate pedagogical practices. Results showed that through the third grade, children receiving direct instruction experienced more stress than children receiving developmentally appropriate curricula. Furthermore, stress seemed to play a causal role in Hart et al.’s model as it predicted the appearance of hyperactive and distractible behaviors as well as greater hostility and aggression. Importantly, these findings emerged regardless of
gender, race, and socio-economic status."

In other words, too much emphasis on academics does exactly the opposite of what we desire for our children. It should be no surprise that stress hinders children’s learning. In short, the present educational focus on higher test scores may be hazardous to our children’s overall health, their cognitive development and future emotional/social adjustment.

But no. Forget the science of the thing. Let's be Puritans instead and punish children into learning. Can you imagine school without recess? Horrible. Everybody needs a break - even children.

Good grief.


  1. Anonymous4:36 PM

    The practice of no recess is especially abhorrent when seen in the light of studies that have shown 20 minutes is the maximum length of lectures in adult students for effective learning. Yet, we expect our children to have no break at all. The idea of no art or music is quite sad. Where is the next generation of artists and musicians supposed to begin to spread their wings?
    Carolyn L.

  2. Anonymous8:45 PM

    The idea of No Child Left Behind is the business model. There are two huge differences. In business you can control what comes in. In education we are talking about children, not things. In education we take them where they are and help them go as far as they can. The idea behind "kindergarten" was to help children bloom, like flowers. Business doesn't work this way.


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