John Taylor Gatto
May 1, 2017
John Taylor Gatto
May 1, 2017
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
September 1, 2016
OK… I realize I’ve been ranting about Amairikuhn edgykayshun above my normal allocation of one rant per month, but then Mr. M.H. sent this article, which I read, and I simply have to pass it along, because it is saying essentially everything that critics of the Amairikuhn “system” of edgykayshun – from John Taylor Gotto to my co-author, Gary Lawrence and I, in our most recent book, Rotten to the (Common) Core – have said. Indeed, in our book, Dr. Lawrence concluded with an entire chapter on “more is not better.” More homework, more standardized tests, more in-class hours, more computers, more ebooks, are not better, and Finland is there not only to make the case, but to make it in spades, for the Scandinavian nation consistently scores at the top of the world for education, utilizing a system that has none of the hallmarks of its American counterpart:
In case you missed them, consider these statements:
Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No 1 global rankings, including most literate nation.
In Finland, children don’t receive formal academic training until the age of seven. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light.
Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. According to one Finnish maxim: “There is no bad weather. Only inadequate clothing.”
And my personal favorite:
Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalised learning device” ever created – flesh-and-blood teachers. (Emphasis added)
So, what do we have?
1) consistently high achievement educationally in all areas when compared to other nations spending(wasting) billions on stupid fads like standardized tests and Common Core (think the USSA here);
2) light homework
3) less time spent in class
4) teaching by real human beings and not computers
5) no to few standardized tests
But you can add yet another bit of information for the reason for Finland’s success:
“Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.“ (Emphasis added)
In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.
In other words, Finland has told Mr. Gates, Mr. Zuckerberg and billionaire busybodies and politicians, to take a hike, and has opened its schools and classrooms to the parents.
One is tempted, when reading this, to conclude that Finland took one look at America, and the “Amairikuhn edgykayshun sistum” and concluded “we don’t want any of that here.” The result is a system that respects children, parents, and the all-important role of the human teacher, a system that relies on little standardized testing, a stress-free classroom environment, and a culture that realizes that big corporate capitalist “solutions” are seldom beneficial to the people it falsely claims to serve.
And the other result is a consistently high standard of performance and a system that works.
It’s time for the USSA to learn this lesson: the progressivist educators, with their batteries of teachers colleges, certification requirements, standardized tests, and a system run by and for the bureaucrats and businessmen, are turning the USSA into a third world cesspool of stupidity and mediocrity.
The system needs to be scrapped, and the billionaire busybodies removed from the process.
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Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
August 27, 2016
OK, I know, it’s too early for another rant on Amairkuhn Edgykayshun and the billionaire busybodies like Bill Gates who want to hurry the process of ruination and dumbing down even more, by more injections of technology. But I have to rant anyway, and you’ll probably want to join me after you finish reading this study that was sent to me by Mr. S.D.H. Only in this case, we’re talking not just about the dumbing down of Amairkuhn edgykayshun, but also about its numbing down:
What do I mean by dumbing down? Well, the above report, while lengthy, says it all, and I cite here a lengthy section from this article to drive the point home:
Impaired cognitive functioning:
Imaging studies have found less efficient information processing and reduced impulse inhibition (Dong & Devito 2013), increased sensitivity to rewards and insensitivity to loss (Dong & Devito 2013), and abnormal spontaneous brain activity associated with poor task performance (Yuan 2011).
In short, excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills.
In other words, all this “screen time”, now enforced through Rotten to the Common Core’s individually adaptive computerized tests and “assessments”, is doing actual brain damage, and as a result, damage and impairment to children’s abilities to recognize and name their emotions. (And please note an additional thing that I’ve ranted about occasionally: note the use of completely inadequate methods of citation: this is now the [dumbed-down] standard in professional journals: one need no longer cite the article by title, magazine or journal, volume number, and actual page citation where the specific points are to be found, one need only cite the author and year of publication, and one does so by inserting a parenthetical expression in the main text itself, interrupting the smooth flow of argument and the “look on the page”! Had I tried this “now acceptable” nonsense in high school on my papers, Mrs. Connors would have returned the paper with a big red letter F for lack of adequate and proper scholarly citation. But through the efforts of the “educators”, these shoddy methods are now considered acceptable. And I say, they are not. They need to be ditched, completely, and professional journals need to insist on the older style of referencing such as I use in my books. Period. End of discussion. No negotiation here.)
Referencing orthography problems aside, the focus of the article is clear: do we want to expose schoolchildren, whose brains are still developing, to the fallacy of “more” (as my co-author Gary Lawrence in Rotten to the (Common) Core put it), to more “obesity, sleep deprivation, mental illness, and radiation”(to cite the article once again). I think the answer is a perfectly clear “no!”
The most damaging study cited by the article, however, is this finding on “technology in the classroom”:
Last fall, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development published its first-ever, and one of the largest-ever, international analyses of student access to computers and how that relates to student learning. “Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after controlling for social background and student demographics.”
That’s right. Lots of computer time meant worse school performance — by a lot.
A little bit of computer use was modestly positive, the authors found. But countries that invested the most in technology for education in recent years showed “no appreciable results” in student achievement. And, striking at the root of one of the biggest claims made about tech in education, “perhaps the most disappointing finding in the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students.”
(A) study published in July looked at high-achieving eighth-graders across North Carolina who had the opportunity to take Algebra I online. The study found that they did much worse than students who took the course face-to-face — about a third of a letter grade worse, in fact. The study author, Jennifer Heissel, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, noted that across education research, “There’s not a lot of cases where you see these big of drops in high-achieving students. Usually you can throw a lot at them.”
So, do we really want students to be spending more time with Bill and Melinda Gates via their computers and standardized tests and electronic textbooks? Well, as one person put it to me in a recent private email to me, not only are the tests proprietary, and hence, not subject to parental scrutiny, the fact that more and more schools are moving to electronic textbooks – amendable at the touch of a button, let us remember – little Johnny or Susie cannot come home and easily point to their schoolbook and ask parent for clarification in many cases, thus removing parental scrutiny from the “texts” themselves. Of course, currently many parents can probably access these “e-texts” via their home computers. But just wait for what’s coming down the pike, for you know it as well as I do: the “edugarchy” and their corporate billionaire busybody masters will next come up with some lame excuse to prohibit parents from that access. Remember, the game is total control, so that even parental access to textbook content will have to go inevitably, and the “e-textbook” is a convenient stepping stone to that end.
Recently someone asked me why I think so many modern American schoolchildren cannot, like, talk coherently, like, without like dropping like the word “like” into every, like, sentence, you, like, know, man? Well, like, consider this, like, explanation for the, like, phenomenon:
“Children learn to talk and communicate through interactions with other people. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it will continue to be, despite any new technology that comes our way. The first several years of life are crucial for your child’s language development. It is when their brain is the most receptive to learning new language and is building communication pathways that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Once that window closes, it is much more difficult for someone to learn and develop language skills. “Every minute that your child spends in front of a screen is one fewer minute that he could spend learning from your interactions with him or practicing his interactions with you. Screen time takes away from time that could (and should) be spent on person-to-person interactions. “Communication is about interacting with others, the give and take. The speaker responds to the listener’s body language and responses to change and adapt what they are saying. The listener uses non-verbal cues to gain deeper meaning from the speaker’s message. There is so much more going on than the list of vocabulary words that the lady in the video is teaching. Videos do not replace person-to-person interactions for teaching language or communication.”[Bold & Underline Emphasis Added Throughout]
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