Education Activist Explains How We Win The Education Wars
Submitted by: Word-Wise Educational Services
Education activist Bruce Price says money isn't the answer, nor is writing up more reports. Saving the public schools requires dismantling the bad ideas that have undermined the system. When we drive out counterproductive dogmas, good ideas will thrive.
(OPENPRESS) January 23, 2009 -- Statistics indicate that students aren't learning. Parents complain about being dragged into "reading wars, "math wars," and "education wars." Businesses have to provide a lot of remedial education. Everyone wonders why public schools, with their huge budgets, can't do a better job.
Bruce Price, a novelist, artist and education activist, enjoys trying to explain the confusion. "For me," Price says, "American education is like a big crime scene. You find a lot of destruction and many wounded. I keep seeing the statistic that we have 50 million functional illiterates. Isn't that dumbfounding...but also totally intriguing? Who allowed this to happen? What were their motives?"
Despite all the gloomy stats, Price is optimistic about the future. "We must push the schools back to their traditional role of teaching the important, permanent stuff," he says "That's what society needs. But how do we do this, given that the top educators are so set in their ways? I don't believe that more money is the answer, nor are more ingenious policy recommendations. The Education Establishment ignores what it doesn't want to hear. So here's my suggestion: we have to systematically deconstruct and eliminate all the bad ideas now so damaging to American culture. We can't expect good ideas to succeed until we get rid of the blight. I mean Whole Word, Cooperative Learning, Critical Thinking, Constructivism, Self-Esteem, No-Memorization, Reform Math, Fuzzy Anything, et al. These things mainly consist of what I call giant flowering sophistries. I try to cut through them. I want parents to understand WHY their kids aren't learning."
The flagship of Price's crusade, since 2005, is his site Improve-Education.org, which now presents 38 original articles and 80,000 words of content. He has another 100 articles on other sites, including 35 book reviews on Amazon.com and 18 education videos on YouTube.com.
Price has been writing about education for 25 years and is now one of the country's more aggressive activists. He acknowledges that his investigations have made him cynical about the country's top educators. "They are much too comfortable with dumbing-down," he says. "I'm obsessed with smartening-up! Perhaps I should add that I never discuss teachers. By educators I mean the people with PhD's, the tiny group that actually dictates policy."
If anyone would like to know the one best paradigm for all the foolishness in modern education, Price nominates Whole Word (which is also known as Sight Words and Dolch Words). His research convinces him that virtually nobody learns to read using this method--that is, by memorizing the shapes of words; but some schools still use it. "I'm always trying," Price reports, "to devise more succinct ways to explain this imposter. I'm very pleased with a chart that compares Phonics to Whole Word--see #37 on Improve-Education.org."
Bruce Price, who studied English Lit at Princeton, is the author of four books, an artist who has had many shows, and he has always operated a small design firm. "Being in the arts and in business," he says, "gives me a broad perspective. I know what good schools look like; and I'm very interested in the practical, ergonomic aspects of giving children a superior education. I have a very simple goal: let's take all children as far as each one can go."
Price writes on a surprising range of topics--robots, constructivism, Taoism, birds, Pavlov, language, sophistry, and many more. His big theme is that all education can be taken to a more productive level. Recent titles include:
Thinking Critically About So-Called Critical Thinking
A Speech to Teenagers About Education
36: The Assault on Math
Education: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
Educators versus Education
30: The War Against Reading
34: The Con in Constructivism
Saving The American Newspaper (S.T.A.N)
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