November 8, 2019

WHAT’S MOST NOTABLE IS THAT THAT THEY’VE BECOME A BASTION OF BAD IDEAS IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED: Erik Gilbert: How Ed Schools Became a Bastion of Bad Ideas.

A few years ago, when I was on my university’s Graduate Council, a new course proposal came to us from our College of Education. The proposal referred to the different learning styles of students, something that struck me as odd — I remembered having heard years before that the learning-styles theory had been discredited. Trusting my colleagues’ expertise, I kept my mouth shut and, assuming that learning styles must have been rehabilitated by new research, voted to pass the proposal.

I later polled the education majors in one of my history classes: Not only did they know about learning styles, they all knew the acronym “VARK,” which stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic — the four alleged learning styles. The theory, it seemed, was alive and well.

Then I sought out the supporting research. Instead, I quickly came across a New York Times article on the curious persistence of learning styles — curious because of widespread evidence debunking the theory (The Atlantic has since published a similar piece). Despite all this, learning styles still apparently pervade colleges of education. A 2014 article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience on the topic of “neuromyths” found that over 90 percent of teachers it surveyed believed in learning styles. . . .

Evidence shows that virtually anyone can learn to read if they are taught to associate letters with particular sounds (phonics) and that trying to teach students to read using the whole language approach works poorly. Still, colleges of education continue to resist phonics. . . .

There are real costs to these inertial, anti-scientific ways. Researchers warn that trying to accommodate students’ beliefs about their own learning styles may actually make it harder for them to learn. The fact that fewer than 40 percent of American eighth graders are proficient readers is partially attributable to educators’ dogged opposition to phonics. . . .

No doubt there are useful things we could learn from the high schools and they from us, but what’s wandering in from the sidewalk may be the worst aspects of the high school, not the best. Instead of the enthusiasm of the robotics team and the Latin club, it’s the top-down administration and the stifling, centralized approach to curriculum and pedagogy that seem to be trying to get their noses under the tent.

Ed school graduates now occupy a growing role in academic administration, especially at lower-tier schools, and they are bringing an ed-school mentality with them.

In three words, ignorant, mediocre, authoritarianism.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.