The myth of learning styles

Right_brainYou know how some people are “right brained” and other people are “left brained”?

And how children are either auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners?  And how they learn best if they are taught according to their particular learning style?

Well, none of that is true!  That educational fad of a few years ago has been thoroughly discredited by scientific research.  And yet teachers, curriculum, and teacher education courses are still teaching it.

A group of neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators in England has issued a public letter pointing this out and begging teachers to drop this stuff and to instead use approaches that are evidence-based. [Read more…]

Group morality vs. individual morality

In the context of a discussion of the conflict between education secretary Betsy DeVos and the teachers’ unions, S. M. Hutchens cites an interesting point made by the late theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

In his book Moral Man and Immoral Society, Niebuhr contrasts group morality to individual morality.  Groups form a “collective egoism” that resists self-criticism.  Whereas individuals are capable of repentance and change.

What are some applications of this observation?

[Read more…]

The return of cursive writing

512px-CursiveAs we blogged about some years ago, teaching cursive handwriting had all but disappeared from our nation’s schools, a victim of computer typing and the Common Core.

But now, cursive handwriting is coming back into the curriculum!  Some 14 states now mandate instruction in the penmanship art.  And now even the progressive New York City school system has come around.

It began when a New York Assemblywoman was working at a voter registration table.  She signed up an 18-year-old.  But when he had to sign his name to the form, he printed it in block letters.  No, she told him, you need to sign it.  He explained that he didn’t know how.  “I never learned script.”  She told this story to city education officials, and they agreed that this is a skill that needs to be taught.

We may have a generation that has never learned how to write or read cursive.  But it may be coming back!

[Read more…]

Why science is sexist and racist

Researchers_in_laboratoryJoy Pullman at the Federalist writes about a doctoral dissertation that maintains that science is inherently sexist and racist.  In the study of STEM syllabi, the education graduate student draws this conclusion:

Initial exploration of the STEM syllabi in this study did not reveal overt references to gender, such as through the use of gendered pronouns. However, upon deeper review, language used in the syllabi reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging, a view of teaching that promotes the idea of a passive student, and by promoting a chilly climate that marginalizes women. . . .

Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.

[Read more…]

And now the conservative Generation Z

9091132233_9f8928fbbd_zForget Millennials.  A new generation is coming of age:  Generation-Z.

It’s being heralded as the most conservative generation since 1945.

One reason, according to Charlie Peters, a member of that generation in Great Britain, is their love of freedom.  Not long ago, that impulse led young people to embrace the causes of the Left.  But now the Left is associated with suppressing freedom.

Now that Generation-Zs are entering the university, they are chafing against the Leftist establishment’s rejection of free speech.  These young people, Peters observes, grew up on the internet and social media where people can hold any position and say whatever they want.  So when they come to the university with its speech codes and taboo ideas, they don’t like it.  So they are becoming conservatives. [Read more…]

Betsy DeVos wins confirmation, barely

Betsy_DeVos_2005_cropThe Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, after an intense Democratic effort to stop her.  With two Republicans voting against her, the final vote was tied, meaning that Vice President Pence, exercising his prerogative as president of the Senate, cast the deciding vote in her favor.

DeVos is an educational reform activist and a champion for school choice and vouchers for private education (including Christian schools and homeschools). Democrats, with their big constituency of teachers’ unions, condemned her lack of experience with public education.

Photo of Betsy DeVos by Keith A. Almli (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Betsy_Devos.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons