Seven Myths about Education, a “short, pungent e-book” by British schoolteacher Daisy Christodoulou, is a
must-read, writes E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Core Knowledge Blog. Both the British and American educational systems “are being hindered by a slogan-monopoly of high-sounding ideas — brilliantly deconstructed in this book,” writes Hirsch.
The seven myths — not unions, low teacher quality or government dictates — are the real problem, Christodoulou argues.
. . . potentially effective teachers have been made ineffective because they are dutifully following the ideas instilled in them by their training institutes. These colleges of education have not only perpetuated wrong ideas about skills and knowledge, but in their scorn for “mere facts” have also deprived these potentially good teachers of the knowledge they need to be effective teachers of subject matter.
After training as a teacher, teaching for three years, attending numerous in-service training days and following educational policy closely, Christodoulou had no idea she “could be using hugely more effective methods” than those she’d been taught. “I would spend entire lessons quietly observing my pupils chatting away in groups about complete misconceptions and I would think that the problem in the lesson was that I had been too prescriptive,” she writes.
Her seven myths:
1 – Facts prevent understanding
2 – Teacher-led instruction is passive
3 – The 21st century fundamentally changes everything
4 – You can always just look it up
5 – We should teach transferable skills
6 – Projects and activities are the best way to learn
7 – Teaching knowledge is indoctrination
No Child Left Behind failed because “American educators, dutifully following the seven myths, regard reading as a skill that could be employed without relevant knowledge,” writes Hirsch. They wasted time on “strategies” for test taking.
Hirsch fears Common Core State Standards, which he supports, will fail too if teachers are “compelled to engage in the same superficial, content-indifferent activities, given new labels like ‘text complexity’ and ‘reading strategies’.”