Lately I’ve become fascinated by changes in teaching methodology and how it has impacted learning (or the lack thereof) in our students. I always get worried when “new teaching methodologies” are pushed in education. Not everything new is better.
Actually I’m quite convinced that our new teaching methods are contributing to the “dumbing down” of America.
NPR has of late been airing stories on dyslexia and documentaries on child literacy rates and how kinds are being taught to read. But before that, I first stumbled onto an explanation of “new math” in my social media feed.
I’d been hearing rumblings for awhile about how parents are having trouble helping their kids do math homework because of the methodology involved. They can’t “show the work” like the teacher expects. After seeing it demonstrated, I can see why!
In my Facebook feed was a shared video of a teacher walking through “multiplication” common core method: Please see the below video:
The common core part happens midway through. There are literally 40 steps to multiplying two numbers.
This is absolutely fucking ridiculous.
For one thing, kids should be taught how to break this down so they can do it in their head. Or at least get close in their head so they know if their final answer makes sense.
How are they ever going to take tests when it takes them 4 minutes to do simple multiplication??
And don’t get me started on Christian home schooling:
Bunch is fucking Jeeb-Tards.
Which brings me to reading. Reading is fundamental. It is so important to establish the ability to read very early on as it influences every other facet of learning.
What’s interesting is that children are not wired to be able to read. I learned this from NPR.
Written language is a relatively new invention for humans, and it was basically developed by making squiggly shapes represent sounds we use to communicate. And then the sound shapes are put together to make “words”.
Our brains aren’t exactly wired for this, so we have to learn the sound shapes and how they work together.
I remember this as a kid. Reading aloud to parents or teachers– sounding out new words to then decode them. Watching phonics on Sesame Street and Electric Company.
(Remember the silhouettes?? Shhhh… it. SHIT!)
That was all phonics based learning. And science has PROVEN that this is the way to teach kids to read. And strong phonics backgrounds lead to better reading, which lead to better achievement in school, etc.
Conversely, kids who don’t get strong reading basics, often start to give up in school and underperform. Which then leads to dropping out. And kids who can’t read very well are statistically MUCH more likely to end up in the criminal justice system.
Reading IS fundamental.
The problem? Our school systems basically rejected phonics teaching and switched to some “whole reading” bullshit.
Instead of teaching kids to sound out words and learn them, they are teaching kids to use context clues from the sentence and guessing at the word they don’t know. For young students, there’s usually an accompanying picture.
So, say the sentence is “I want to ride my horse” and the kid doesn’t know “horse”. So the teacher tells them to guess and the kid guesses “pony” and the teacher says yes! Very good!
Horse and pony are NOT the same. They don’t contain the same letters. They don’t sound the same. And they technically don’t mean the same creature. But this is how kids are being taught. And literacy rates are dropping precipitously! And no wonder!! I mean, what. The actual. Fuck?
What the fuck is an older kid gonna do when they’re reading something that doesn’t have pictures???
I was absolutely engrossed in this NPR story. And gobsmacked. It explains SO MUCH, right?
I think this all started with “no child left behind”. And now ALL our children are being left behind. it’s pretty sad and sobering.
We need to get back to basics. And stop changing teaching methodologies unless science supports the change.
If you believe in science, that is. Don’t get me started on that subject.