Constructing special ed students

Has constructivism increased the number of special ed students?  Niki Hayes, who’s worked as a special ed teacher, math teacher, counselor and principal, thinks so.

The constructivist classroom doesn’t provide the structure children need — especially those from disadvantaged homes, she writes.

It is students from kindergarten through high school “discovering” their own answers by using manipulatives, working in groups, contriving “real world” problems through “project-based’ activities, moving and talking – a lot — and surviving in a hierarchy of those students who can lead and those who must follow according to their skills.

It is lots of colorful, jazzy pictures in books and on classroom walls that show many different ethnic groups, women, with gender-neutral stories, and with child-directed activities that only require teacher “facilitation.” Children rule the day.

. . . It ridicules practice and repetition as “drill and kill” and believes anything that requires memorization is a waste of time that should be used for “creative” thinking.

. . . It believes that if students are having fun, according to perceived “learning styles,” they will like going to school and they will learn the academics they need to prepare for the world of work.

Taught with constructivist techniques, more children will require special education, Hayes writes. Some will become discipline problems.

No one will ever be able to determine how many hundreds of thousands of children, who came from dysfunctional, even chaotic, home environments and who entered the constructivist classroom with its lack of boundaries, no right or wrong answers, and the expectation to “discover” their own answers, were shuffled from the “feel-good, tolerant, and fun system” into special education programs.

By contrast, children learn when given “explicit, step-driven instruction with consistent consequences of positive results, along with direct teacher support,” Hayes writes.