The wrong people will be encouraged; people will draw the wrong conclusions

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The Left has a tendency to suppress facts either because they believe it will embolden their ideological enemies, or they are concerned that the facts will lead people to unauthorized conclusions.

Here are a couple of recent examples. I will add more as I come across them.

The National Post reported recently on a study by neuroscientists that shows rote memorization lays an important foundation for higher-order reasoning in children:

In effect, as young math students memorize the basics, their brains reorganize to accommodate the greater demands of more complex math. It is a gradual process, like "overlapping waves," the researchers write, but it clearly shows that, for the growing child's brain, rote memorization is a key step along the way to efficient mathematical reasoning.

The news story's writer framed this as a finding that was "sure to inflame the math wars" between "fundamentalists" and their "popular and progressive" opponents.

As a scientific justification of rote learning, the study seems likely to further polarize the controversy over math teaching styles, in which arithmetical fundamentalists are squared off against the popular and progressive forces of "discovery-based" learning, in which students are encouraged to find their own ways to the right answer.

By illustrating the benefit of repetition and memory, and showing how it serves as a stepping stone to mature calculation, the research is likely to embolden the fundamentalists, who have only recently started to win back lost ground.

Jenks middle school principal Rob Miller has a popular blog where he evangelizes for the idea that the billions we spend on education shouldn't go to teaching actual content. Here he is talking about the Howe school district in LeFlore County, which got a failing grade from the State Department of Education because of its students' poor test scores, despite having all sorts of cool classroom technology:

But what happens if bringing back more traditional teaching strategies actually brings their scores up? This will simply empower the naysayers and it will be very difficult to return to the district's original vision for 21st century teaching and learning-processes that create globally competent critical thinkers instead of just good test takers.

God forbid we should empower the naysayers! You can't be a "globally competent critical thinker" unless you've mastered fundamental facts about math, geography, history, grammar, and logic. Those are the building blocks for competent critical thinking, but Principal Miller and the Howe school leadership seem to want to skip right by the "boring" basics in favor of gee-whiz technology.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 28, 2014 2:46 AM.

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