No Place for Politics, pt 3: The Big Lie, and its Results
by Fil Barnes, science teacher “The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” – Adolf Hitler It probably is not a good idea to start off any paper with a quote from Hitler. In this case, one does have to admit that he knew what he was talking about. With one BIG lie, Adolf Hitler managed to convince an entire nation of reasonably intelligent people that another group of people was the source of all their problems and that they should be eradicated.
What does Hitler’s mind control over a nation have to do with Texas education?
About 30 years ago, Texans were told (by Ross Perot, among others) that traditional education does not work and that we needed to make sweeping changes in how teachers teach. Amazingly, Perot used traditional teaching methods to make his points known. Teachers today are still forced to endure hours of lectures and Power Points about how traditional instruction methods are evil. Ironically, traditional instruction methods are used by TEA and the ESCs in all their teacher training workshops.
Comment by Janice
If traditional methods do not work, why do TEA and the ESCs representatives always use them?
Why don’t they allow teachers to discover the best methods for teaching their students instead of force feeding 21st century progressive methods to teachers?
I have not seen a study that conclusively proves that traditional methods do not work. I have seen numerous studies that were inconclusive. But there are many studies that praise traditional methods of teaching.
So why did we believe the BIG LIE that traditional instruction methods are ineffective?
Because none of us enjoyed sitting and reading the textbook in class, copying notes from an overhead projector, or memorizing the presidents or the periodic table. We do not want our children to be subject to such awful practices! Does that mean traditional methodology is flawed? No, it means that just like today, there used to be some lousy teachers out there. It is easy to find studies that have found traditional lecture-type methods more effective than the progressive student centered classroom (for example, Schwerdt and Wuppermann, Harvard, 2010).
My own students, much to my surprise, have often indicated that they get much more from one of my lectures (they actually call them rants) than they do from internet research, talking with each other about what they have found, doing presentations for the class – you know, all that stuff that the currently statewide non-adopted curriculum has them doing.
I am a strong proponent of the 40% lab rule in science classes. I want my students doing things hands-on. I do not believe that any education expert has argued against this practice. Those who cannot agree on anything else (for example, Alfie Kohn and Daniel Willingham) will agree on the fact that most students will benefit from having tactile problems to solve. Should I lecture for the other 60% of the time? That is hard to answer, since there are many factors involved. Length of class period, difficulty of content, style differences, etc. In general, the answer is probably “no.”
I have been speaking and performing in public all my life. I am passionate about my subject. Therefore, I can generally maintain an audience’s attention for a long time. But that does not mean they are learning anything. I have seen everything from the new idea that the teacher should never talk for more than 3 minutes at a time, to a less specific limit of 1/3 of a class period. The rule for my classroom is that I never want to talk for more than 5 minutes without asking a question (similar to the 3 minute rule), and that I never want to talk for more than 15 minutes without putting something in the students’ hands to support the ideas.
The Big Lie is that the 21st Century Progressive Technology Teaching Methods are more effective than Traditional Teaching Methods.
However, most new teachers will comply and most experienced teachers will move on or move out. Which is, unfortunately, the whole point. Many veteran teachers are retiring early. Some have been able to find teaching positions in school districts that still value and encourage the skills of veteran traditional educators. I did eventually move on to a non-Cscope district, but I will continue to advocate for Texas students. After all it is our Texas students who are losing out when education become like a monotone—all the same. Students are vastly different and require educators who are allowed to meet their needs.
Closing Comments by Janice
I do so thank Fil for speaking out.
How long is it going to take Texas legislatures to acknowledge that the truth about CSCOPE/TRS Instructional Material as well as Professional Development programs, such as Fundamental Five?
There are three reasons that these programs are created—
But why would any competent school superintendent purchase CSCOPE/TRS or pay for Fundamental Five professional development?
1. TEA threatens school districts into such purchases. No school wants to loose accreditation.
2. Some less than competent school administrators need a check list to do their job.
The Truth is that the 21st Century Progressive Teaching Method is much like hammering a square peg into a round hole. Students are different and the Progressive one-Size Fits All Teaching Method just doesn’t work for all students nor for all teachers.