Skip to comments.Education as Neurotoxin: How Public Schools Were Dumbed Down
Posted on 01/27/2011 2:02:38 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
[New YouTube video is short, graphical, and has good jazz; this is script for it--]
A century ago, Maria Montessori reached a brilliant insight. Observing children at a mental institution, she wondered: Suppose we created a jazzed-up environment that constantly challenged and inspired young minds...?
Montessori created a new kind of school for impaired children. Quickly, her students were equal to normal children. She became the toast of Europe; as she deserved to be. Montessoris vision has to inspire all true educators.
But what, after all, is Montessori telling us but common sense? If you want intellectual and cognitive development, you had better do everything possible to light fires in those young minds.
Unfortunately, American education, for a century, has followed exactly the opposite path from Montessoris. Our public schools are based on a model of intellectual minimalism.
The first question asked by John Dewey--the Father of American Education--was how much content can we toss out the window? The second question was how can we teach school subjects so that all students remain more or less at the same stage? He wanted little Socialists who work and play well together.
Dewey and his followers devised what might be called the anti-Montessori classroom. The only positive stimulation came from group activities. Other than that, Deweys classrooms, behind the contrived festiveness, were to be academically stunted.
Tragically, much of the genius of American Education has gone into devising dozens of methods that sound scientific; but in practice are formulas for education LITE.
The most egregious example is Whole Word. This gimmick was sold to the public as modern whereas dear old phonics was dismissed as obsolete. Sounds good until we tally up the 50,000,000 functional illiterates and 1,000,000 dyslexics created by Whole Word--the purest example of education as neurotoxin.
In the name of their ideology, progressive educators were willing to dumb down an entire country by propagating neurotoxic ideas falsely labeled as education. Discarding these dishonest ideas is our first order of business.
For Dewey and his ilk the operative phrase was social engineering. What we need is intellectual engineering.
Whether kids are gifted or slow, they are best served by Montessoris insight that all children develop most quickly in a challenging, cognitively enriched environment. Deweys disgraceful goal was to crush all children down to the same average size. Thanks for the neurotoxins, John. But enough already. What we need is education as neuro-enhancer.
The right approach is simply stated. Emphasize basic skills, foundational knowledge and mastery. Basics, Knowledge, Mastery. BKM. That's something we didn't try for a while.
In sum, American schools were overrun by bad theories and unproductive methods because the education bosses became obsessed with social engineering schemes. All we are saying is give education a chance...
For more on the hoax called Whole Word, see 42: Reading Resources on Improve-Education.org.
A longer version of these thoughts ran here more than a year ago. I just realized I could make a graphic video out of it. The video runs only 3:40 minutes and is fairly lively. Please pass it on.
The dumbing down is so patently obvious to me it’s jaw-dropping.
I graduated high school in 1969. I waited 25 years to take any college - was raising children - and took math and computer classes, so didn’t get a lot of the social crap.
Today, I hire college graduates and it’s quickly apparent to me that I knew more about history, language, and rational thought when I graduated high school than todays college graduates know.
“The right approach is simply stated. Emphasize basic skills, foundational knowledge and mastery. Basics, Knowledge, Mastery. BKM. That’s something we didn’t try for a while.”
I wish they would stick with the basics.
My daughter is doing lattice multiplication. I’ve never seen that stuff before. I thought, “What the hell is that?” when I saw her homework. I agreed with your assessment of this method-that it’s a form of child abuse.
She claims that’s the only way she can understand it but I couldn’t do it. It makes absolutely no sense to me and I want to scream every time I look at it.
The Progressive nursery schools start a childs education at the age of three. Their view of a childs needs is militantly anti-cognitive and anti-conceptual. A child of that age, they claim, is too young for cognitive training; his natural desire is not to learn, but to play. The development of his conceptual faculty, they claim, is an unnatural burden that should not be imposed on him; he should be free to act on his spontaneous urges and feelings in order to express his subconscious desires, hostilities and fears. The primary goal of a Progressive nursery school is social adjustment; this is to be achieved by means of group activities, in which a child is expected to develop both self-expression (in the form of anything he might feel like doing) and conformity to the group.--The Comprachicos by Ayn Rand (pdf)
(For a presentation of the essentials of the Progressive nursery schools theories and practiceas contrasted to the rationality of the Montessori nursery schoolsI refer you to The Montessori Method by Beatrice Hessen in The Objectivist, May-July 1970.)
Here’s a good explanation of latice multiplication: http://www.coolmath4kids.com/times-tables/times-tables-lesson-lattice-multiplication-1.html
Seems like a hell of a lot of work.
RE the idiocy called lattice multiplication.
Just in case some people don’t know, there’s a great YouTube video called AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH by the wonderful M. J. McDermott.
Save this for when you have 16 minutes. It’ll make you kind of sick but in a good way. Lattice multiplication is another example of education as neurotoxin. Indeed, I think all of Reform Math is.
Putting it on diagonals seems to me to make it harder to understand what a "ones", "tens" and "hundreds" place is.
It looks like a combination of busy work and something to take them away from the basics, or confuse them when they try to do the old fashioned work.
It seems like homework is of the above nature or designed to find out what makes your child tick or find out what the child believes in or what direction the child is leaning politically.
It looks like a lot more work, but my daughter claims it’s the only way she can really understand how to multiply. When I checked her work, she had 10 out of 12 answers wrong and had to do them over again, some more than once until she got it right.
She used to do okay with the old fashioned method. Now, I’m afraid she’ll never be able to do it again without getting confused.
I hate to think that must be the goal the “educators’ are shooting for.
Home viewing bookmark.
Try TheMathPage.com to help undo the damage.
In two weeks she learned to handle the dingy in our busy waterway, she is very smart.
Thank you! : )
“Pretty cool, huh? Try some yourself! You can check your answers using a calculator or the regular way of multiplying.” answer NO! NOT cool!
Looks like a good way to waste a lot of time and if a person is the least bit sloppy, expect the wrong answer! What they are teaching is; “Use a calculator kid.”
RE your quote about the progressive school...
You know what’s really fascinating? The intellectual incoherence revealed.
On the one hand, let the kids loose to experience their feelings and impulses. ON THE OTHER HAND, train them to be docile and conformist. It’s a perfect recipe for making crazy people.
And no matter which side of the paradox the kids are operating on, academic attainment is not part of the craziness. So they end up confused AND ignorant.
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You’re welcome. I like the way he explains things using mathematical laws instead of just “do this, then do that” explanations.
Perhaps it’s time to think about a new educational venue for her.
I think it works like this:
The schools purchase a crazy math and a crazy reading curriculum at great expense to the taxpayer, and even if they prove to be an abject failure, since they paid so much for them, they will use them, even if they are detrimental to your child and they know that they are detrimental to your child and every other child in the school. They don’t care, they will carry on, hoping for the best, but secretly knowing that the programs are the worst. They will never admit that they are failures — they will use the excuse that parents are too stupid to understand them. Math and reading scores will plummet because the stupid parents can’t fathom the new math or reading curricula and help their children, not that the teachers understand the programs or have the ability to help the children either. However, there is great hope that the next crazy math or reading program will be a success, but that’s after the superintendent and school board have long since gone and a new superinendant and board is in place, with a new crazy math and crazy reading program.
Fifteen years ago when I was hiring AS degreed people, 40% failed the 8th grade math test we gave them.
Easier to turn them into slogan-chanting freedom-hating monsters.
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