CSCOPE is a Constructivism Teaching Method.
The ESCs (Education Service Centers) in Texas designed, developed, and sold CSCOPE to Texas schools. The constructivist teaching philosophy was purposely selected even though this method of instruction is known not to be effective with minorities (non-white). Since black and Hispanic students are in the majority in Texas, why would the ESCs purposely chose constructivism over a more effective traditional method? To make matters worse, the ESCs originally promoted their product called CSCOPE as being all that a school needed. No text books. Just CSCOPE.
The following provides information about constructivism and why it hurts black and Hispanic children.
Constructivism: Why it Hurts Minorities and the Poor
by Bruce Dietrick Price
Summary: Constructivism is not just anti-knowledge, it’s also anti-minorities and anti-poor. The less you know, the less you will ever know, thanks to this destructive fad.
Constructivism is the latest fad burning through American public schools. Here’s a quick definition: children are supposed to invent their own new versions of all knowledge, while teachers (now called facilitators) are supposed to stand back and encourage the process.
I’ve been writing for some years about how unrealistic and time-consuming this approach is. There are 1000s of things that a child should know. Children would need many extra years to reinvent the main facts of biology, history, arithmetic, geography, etc. Even worse, children are supposed to build on what they already know (prior knowledge) and work at their own pace, So the class is automatically fragmented into many levels and points of interest. Let the chaos begin.
As noted, I was satisfied that this thing is not a good idea. But I’ve recently received a number of letters from teachers lamenting their classroom situations, and I now realize that Constructivism is even more of a menace than I supposed.
To put this in perspective, first consider older students, in college or even high school, with a good education up to this point. They know a lot of information and thus have a chance of reaching some new insights or generalizations. Now extrapolate downward to younger, less informed children. Their prior knowledge is very meager. What is the child supposed to build on??
Let’s also extrapolate from the children who grow up in educated, talkative, involved families. Isn’t it obvious that these children would know much more than the children from poor homes, deprived homes, homes where the parents are not well educated and not very interested in the education of their children? Such children know almost nothing. It’s precisely these children most urgently in need of a crash course in foundational knowledge!
What they get instead is an officially approved policy guaranteed to prolong their ignorance. Let me spell this out so there can be no misunderstanding: the younger and more ignorant the child, the greater the damage inflicted by Constructivism.
Comment by Janice VanCleave
Why would the ESCs, who are suppose to very knowledgeable about the best techniques of educating chose constructivism, when they knew many of Texas students had little chance of succeeding with it?
Now the following two letters from teachers will be self-explanatory:
“…I was told today at a job interview that, even though I get great results with my students, they would rather hire someone who already believed in Constructivism….My kindergarten students can dissect a sentence like a second grader, and I am very proud of that.
Still, I get marked down and ridiculed on my evaluations. My superiors complain that I need to have my students in cooperative groups (useless chatter), in learning stations (playing with toys), and that I need to refrain from correcting children for their mistakes and instead guide them with poignant questions to the right answer.
I could spend a whole day or longer probing and cuing a child to give an answer, when he/she doesn’t have the frame of previous knowledge from which to derive the answer.” (Lynn M.)
“The principal has refused to recommend me for employment as a teacher because I flagrantly ignored the school’s emphasis on education reform (read Constructivism) according to him. He was appalled that I had the students memorize facts. Where was the higher order thinking involved in the task, he queried me-–not waiting for an answer and clearly not wanting one. It mattered not to him that the kids loved the geography unit. That they had learned about the equator, they had seen images of maps and had talked with me about how the world seemed to grow over time in ancient maps. We talked about technology and how our planet looked on Google Earth. We talked about the invention of the wheel, of navigation, and all sorts of other fascinating things. The boys were wondering if we would soon have Google Moon and Google Jupiter. They knew what a compass rose was and what it did. They learned about scale and computed some simple scale problems. No, none of that mattered because I had violated two major rules -–
I had had the children memorize facts and I had taught them information.” (Jan H.)
For me, these letters are inexpressibly sad. These teachers are caring and conscientious but all that counts for nothing in schools that have declared war on facts. This war has been in progress for almost a century. Constructivism is just the cleverest new tactic in this war. But unlike the previous tactics, which taught less to everybody across the board, this new tactic discriminates against the under-educated. The less you know coming in, the less you will be allowed to know, ever.
Constructivism is just a highfalutin gimmick for dumbing down the next generation. Like so many methods called “progressive,” it is actually regressive and repressive.
Schools must get back in the knowledge business. This need has never been more urgent. Facts are fun. Knowledge is power. Start from these simple premises, and excellent schools are almost inevitable.
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Bruce Deitrick Price is the founder of Improve-Education.org, a high-level education and intellectual site. One focus is reading; see “42: Reading Resources.” Another focus is education reform; see “38: Saving Public Schools.” Price is an author, artist and poet. His fifth book is “THE EDUCATION ENIGMA–What Happened to American Education.”