Richard Colvin’s new blog, EarlyStories, will focus on early education. A former LA Times education writer, Richard is now director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College at Columbia. He works on educating education writers, so he’ll also write about how journalists cover education. For example, he mocks journalists’ wide-eyed response to “unschooling.”
The basic philosophy of the “unschooling” troops seems to be that “government” schools “force” kids to learn, brainwashing them rather than enlightening them. Reminds me of a tour of schools in New Zealand I made while reporting for the Los Angeles Times. I was telling an ed-school prof there that I had come to report on the whole language reading instruction methods so popular down there. “Oh,” she said to me in her lovely New Zealand accent, “instruction seems so, I don’t know, medieval.” Had I been quicker, I would have replied: “Oh, really. I’ve always thought of instruction as rather Renaissance.”
After years of not instructing children in phonics, New Zealanders discovered many of them couldn’t read.