From Smithsonian Magazine’s A+ for Finland, we learned Finland’s teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.
However, in America, few trust or want to hear advice from school teachers. Instead, each state has a curriculum for teachers to follow and standardized tests to make sure teachers are doing as they are told.
The unspoken message to most of America’s teachers is to say nothing, do what we say and if you do not like it, quit. In addition, if you stay and do not succeed, it is your fault.
Well, half do quit in the first five years of teaching and few come back.
Rote learning, which is still practiced successfully—regardless of what American critics say—in other countries such as China or Singapore, was rejected in the U.S. because it was decided during the rise of the self-esteem parenting movement that rote learning was tedious and no fun, which explains why this method of teaching was tarred, feathered, tortured and burned at the stake in the U.S.
However, there are elements of education that require boring and tedious rote learning such as memorizing the names of the states and their capitals, the names of America’s presidents, rules of grammar, the multiplication tables, which I had to memorize when I was young, and how to spell, etc.
Then in the early 1980s, the Whole Language Approach (WLA) arrived in America. At the school where I taught, I was one of many English teachers that protested this method would not work.
We were ignored and forced to do as we were told or else.
Without an ounce of trust for the judgment of those English teachers, which included me, we were forced to throw out the grammar books, which were tedious and boring to learn from.
Whole Language versus Phonics says of the Whole Language approach to teaching, “experimenting with new concepts upon an entire nation of children without any verifiable proof of a concept’s effectiveness has proven a grave mistake for millions of children in several generations. Illiteracy has been growing for at least four decades, and yet Whole Language continues to be used.”
Continued on August 30, 2011 in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 3 or return to Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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