deweyToday’s Wall Street Journal hosted an op-ed piece by a teacher who makes the plain case why common core, among a host of education reforms tried in the last several decades which have not delivered on the promises they made to “fix” education, will not work. It is exactly why so many people do not believe the hype or promises of common core and are reminded of Einstein ‘s definition of insanity. Those of you who weren’t taught the new self exploration way of learning won’t be having to Google that definition right now.

What’s 12 x 11? Um, Let Me Google That

Contrary to today’s educational theories, memorization is critical in the classroom and life.
By David G. Bonagura Jr.
Oct. 30, 2013 6:59 p.m. ET

I’m a bad teacher. Or so I would be labeled by today’s leading education professionals. My crime? Not my classroom performance and not my students’ test scores. The problem is that I require students to memorize.

My students learn proper grammar by drilling. They memorize vocabulary by writing given words and their definitions multiple times for homework, and then sitting the following day for an oral quiz. They memorize famous quotations by reciting them at the start of class each day.

For centuries, these pedagogical techniques were the hallmark of primary and secondary education. But once John Dewey’s educational theories were adopted in public schools beginning in the 1940s, they fell out of vogue, ridiculed and rejected by education professionals across the country as detrimental to learning. In schools of education such techniques are derisively labeled “drill and kill” and “chalk and talk.” Instead, these experts preach “child-centered” learning activities that make the teacher the “facilitator” in education, which is understood as a natural process of self-discovery.

This educational philosophy has driven every national educational initiative of the last several decades: New Math, Whole Language, Outcome-based Education and now the Common Core Standards that are being rolled out across the country.

All of the previous initiatives have at least three things in common. First, they didn’t work. The U.S. still lags behind the world in education, even though each program, in its day, was touted as the means to bring our children to the top. Second, they all espoused the same child-centered educational philosophy, which has coincided with American students’ mediocre performance in the classroom. Third, they rejected memorization out of hand.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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