Seven Deadly Progressive Education Myths

The battle to reform the education system won’t be won until our side learns how to fight the information war. Here is just a recent summary of the same kinds of things that have been being said for decades. Unfortunately, too few people will ever learn about it. Here is Jane Robbins writing at The Federalist:

Our schools are failing our kids, and ‘Seven Myths About Education’ explains how politics replaced pedagogy.

In many ways, the progressive education establishment is akin to a leftist “Hive”—people who think and speak alike and move in concert, even without centralized control or an active conspiracy.

The education Hive exercises power and influence in every state and nearly all Western countries. From the Department of Education, to congressional education committees, to state departments of education, to colleges of education, to the numerous and multiplying individuals and private foundations that dump money and theory into questionable education reform efforts, the Hive is enormous and remarkably monolithic. There are differences, to be sure, on topics such as charter schools, but about the fundamentals there is no disagreement.

What are these fundamentals? Shibboleths about what schools should accomplish, and particular pedagogy. We hear ad nauseum that schools must turn out students who are college- and career-ready and prepared to compete in the twenty-first-century global economy. (Classical educators would argue that the purpose of education is much broader and more fundamental than this, but that’s a topic for another essay.) To create such students, schools must teach less factual content (or knowledge), which is instantly available through the Internet, and focus more on “noncognitive skills” such as critical thinking and collaboration.

There’s a surface plausibility to these tropes. Who could oppose teaching “critical thinking”? And it’s true, isn’t it, that most facts are available in a matter of seconds? So shouldn’t schools focus more on what to do with those facts? But many traditionalists are skeptical of these claims, perhaps without being able to identify exactly why.

Read more: The Federalist

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