When you bring the Federal Government into schools what you bring with it is politics. Every lobbying effort in Washington from arts to conservation now has a seat at the table in your child's classroom. What the "experts" will tell you is that children don't need a full curriculum anymore. They don't need to memorize things because they can look them up. This is the excuse for all the classroom interruption. They will tell you that children learn through experiences and that of course, it's so important that they be socially engineered with one program after another. How could students ever live their own lives without the government telling them what to eat, what to say and not say, how and when to have sex, that they need exercise, what they should like and not like (like art), what they should believe and not believe (like global warming etc.), teach them to run the governors cup, teach them to work for nonprofits like Food Share, teach them to garden (healthy life style), manage their family with home visits and after school programs and so many other things that the "experts" haven't even thought of yet?
My son often reads the liberal nonsense on this very same internet. He read an article about education the other day hmmm-. Well, this genius he was reading had this thesis, which he did not think up himself of course, that what do you learn more from - experiencing a mountain or having a presentation about a mountain? Just think of that, this poor man wants us to go back to cave man days when all the knowledge a person had was what he experienced!! Well, I of course told my son he would learn more from a presentation- duh. If a person experienced a mountain they would know that it had plants and trees and was rocky and cold at the top. If they had a presentation they would know that mountains have altitudes in varying degrees and exist in mountain chains in countries across the world and what fossils are and the tree line and on and on. Well, he said, you could look all that up! Well, I said, I guess you would have to know how to read to look it up, and that takes an awful lot of planned learning. In addition it's really not that simple, we can understand what we are reading because we have had presentations of knowledge. I could read a medical article but this does not make me a doctor. Learning takes time and study, it takes presentation, practice, review and evaluation over and over again for years and years. Knowledge builds in a strategic and precise fashion that builds a foundation and then builds on that foundation. This is not rocket science, and it is stupid that we even have to have this converstaion because of these imbeciles in education theory who are bending to the needs of special interests who want to make money off of our schools. Instead of moving forward we are fighting for what is so obvious. My son got it immediately "oh yeah, working smarter instead of harder."
Experience that reinforces learning is fabulous, that's what science experiments and field trips are all about, but experience without presentation is not much more than a trip to Disney Land, lots of fun, but not of real consequence in building a foundation of knowledge. The Federal Department of Defense is now being used in education. They don't teach about national defense, they teach the Star Based program. Kids in 5th grade give up a whole week of education to play with computers and space simulators. The tax payers get to pay for this. This is an example of Disney Land learning. There is no foundation for this learning, it is not part of the 5th grade curriculum. There is no teach, practice, review and evaluate to it. There is no learning that becomes the foundation for the next lesson. It's just fun. So a whole week of learning in 5th grade is sacrificed just for fun. The man who presented this information to the budget committee here in Helena, an elementary principal, wants more of this. Take every non profit in town, Grand Street Theater, Exploration Works, the museum, just any place, and put the kids there according to their interests!! This man has no idea what entails a complete and good education. He has no respect for the learning process.
People often ask me what I think of Montessori. Maria Montessori based her learning theory on a Frenchman's study of how babies learn. Piaget watched babies explore their world. He noted how they repeated tasks over and over again - like buckling or fitting one thing into another. From this he deduced, or others did for him, that children should teach themselves!! This is stupid. What I tell people is that I can't speak to every Montessori class because they are not really Montessori, they are perverted- for example, in Helena they do the Walk To Read program and the Accelerated Reader Program and the Accelerated Math program (along with all the constant interruptions that every class suffers). What I will say is that I believe Maria Montessori was wrong. Babies are in an explore and discover mode of learning, they don't even have language yet. Small children may still be exploring but they have language and are beginning to do higher level things like reading and spelling. They are exploring their world at a much more complex level. They are beginning to build that foundation of knowledge that does not come from licking something. It comes from listening and reading and practicing and reviewing and evaluation and building knowledge strategically.
As I've said on this blog before, get the dollars back to the classroom and out of Washington. Send the special interests packing and make school what it should be- the opportunity for young people to build a good foundation of knowledge and skills that will allow them the opportunity to pursue their happiness without the Federal Government, in any way shape or form.