Re: The Eight-Year Study
Sat, 8 Mar 1997 09:59:12 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 97-03-08 01:04:22 EST, SwiftRain wrote:

<< I'm just wondering, is anyone aware of any writing criticizing this
study? Do traditional educators offer anything as a defense against
this sort of thing, or do they just ignore it and hope (validly, it
seems) that it will go away?


In over 25 years of dealing with people in traditional education, I have come
to one firm conclusion: We are not talking about logical debate. I taught
for a few in the Ann Arbor public schools, doing a very alternative program.
We often were challenged with such remarks as, "No one could learn in that
environment!" We were the only program in the entire system that did true
pre-, mid-, and post-testing using assessment instruments that were not
directly connected to the curriculum. (In other words, we never used unit
tests or weekly spelling tests. Instead, we used general tests three times a
year to see what they knew coming in, what they knew midway through the year,
and at the end of the year. We despised tests, but felt we needed to "prove
our worth" to the traditional system.) Our kids always did very well. When
presented with this evidence, the response from much of the rest of the
system was, "Oh, er, well, we need more data before we're convinced." This
was the typical and continuous response.

When my brother was going through his medical training he went through the
various rotations. He told me one day that he thought that the OB's were the
most hidebound and unresponsive to change of all of the other specialties. I
told him that that was my sense of most folks in traditional education. It
all of a sudden struck me that there was a great similarity between the two
groups of professionals: For thousands or millions of years (depending on
one's belief system) it has been "just folks" who taught the kids and "just
folks" who helped women birth the babies. It has only been in very recent
history that professions have grown up around those two very human endeavors.
I believe that at the very root of their being, those who believe in the
need for these professionals realize that they have built a "house of cards"
and are afraid that someone might come along and blow on their flimsy
structure! To that end, they deflect and ignore real criticism and real
issues and concentrate on gathering more decks of cards!

Too harsh? Maybe.