Holding the gate against ideas

“The government wastes hundres of millions of dollars on math and science programs that never seem to improve the test scores of American students,” writes Barbara Oakley in Take This Paradigm and Shove It in Psychology Today. She blames “intellectual gatekeepers” who keep unfashionable ideas from being debated and funded. 

. . . today’s K-12 educators—unlike educators in other high-scoring countries of the world—refuse to acknowledge evidence that memorization plays an important role in mastering mathematics. Any proposed program that supports memorization is deemed to be against “creativity” by today’s intellectual gatekeepers in K-12 education, including those behind the Math and Science Partnerships. As one NSF program director told me: “We hear about success stories with practice and repetition-based programs like Kumon Mathematics. But I’ll be frank with you—you’ll never get anything like that funded. We don’t believe in it.” Instead the intellectual leadership in education encourages enormously expensive pimping programs that put America even further behind the international learning curve.

“Pimping” programs? Hmmm.

In the education world, what potentially good ideas are outside the gate?

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