Tags: Education | Money

Chasing Learning Fads Abandons Basics

Image: Chasing Learning Fads Abandons Basics
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Friday, 23 Oct 2015 01:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Sooner or later it had to happen. A publicity–hungry executive is profiled hovering over his work at a standing desk and boasting how it makes him a veritable dynamo of productivity.

He’s one–upped by the business titan at a treadmill desk. Other companies adopt the standing desk for their employees in spite of the best efforts of the Herman Miller Company — manufacturer of the Aeron chair — to head the emerging trend off at the pass.

Now an educrat in California has decided to inflict the fad on defenseless elementary school children. Vallecito Elementary School, CBS News tells us, in San Rafael “will soon be the first in the country to have standing desks everywhere.”

Evidently the transition wasn’t seamless. According to CBS " . . . students were initially tired from standing all day [and] teachers also took some time to grow adjusted to the movement in the classroom.”

Indicating there may have been even more chaos than is normal in an elementary class. But not to worry, Principal Tracy Smith, no doubt like the students, is jumping up and down: “I'm so excited for them and I'm thrilled that we found a way to make them more excited about school.”

Not to be out done, other schools “are experimenting with other alternatives - like yoga balls to increase core stability, exercise bikes for "read-and-bike" programs, or bands - to keep kids active.”

The problem with all this hyperactivity, which formerly was viewed as a detriment to education, is study requires focus, concentration and replication.

Or if you prefer, it requires application and drill. Innovation in education usually means degradation of the learning process. A prime example was switching from phonics–based reading, which gave students the building blocks of words; to “whole language” instruction.

That faddish shift dealt a blow to reading scores that has yet to be repaired.

The crawl tube and ball pit at the McDonald’s playground is supposed to be an exciting, fun–filled romp. School is supposed to be preparation and that involves learning. Life is not a whirlwind of new, exciting experiences that will enrich your every waking moment.

For confirmation just ask the barrista who majored in Women’s Studies.

It’s ironic the only aspect of U.S. education where there is strict accountability and
consequences for failure is also the department that’s most derided by “education experts.”

The men and women who run the athletic department in high school and college are judged by performance. While “educators” can graduate high school students who read and comprehend at an elementary school level without individual repercussions, a football coach who produces 2 and 8 teams will soon be looking for work.

There is another important contrast in how they work with students. While classroom teachers and administrators are busy chasing the latest fad in education, the coaches are making sure their charges learn the fundamentals first before advancing.

This learning process involves repeated practice of basic components until players react instinctively.

In the classroom this sort of application is called “drill and kill” and is avoided at all costs and student’s test scores show the predictable results.

Students and taxpayers would be better served if educrats would stop chasing the latest fad and once again concentrate on the fundamentals. 

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.




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While classroom teachers and administrators are busy chasing the latest fad in education, coaches are making sure their charges learn the fundamentals first. Students and taxpayers would be better served if educrats would once again concentrate on the fundamentals.
Education, Money
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2015-31-23
Friday, 23 Oct 2015 01:31 PM
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