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We know the most effective teaching method, so why don't we implement it?

We know the most effective teaching method, so why don't we implement it?
President Obama pats Education Secretary Arne Duncan's back in the White House on Oct. 2, 2015, as Duncan announces that he will be stepping down after 7 years in the Obama administration. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Times' editorial states correctly that implementing changes in American education requires "evidence of success." ("The School Improvement Grants that didn't improve schools," editorial, Jan. 27)

Beginning in 1968, the federal government sponsored the most extensive educational experiment ever, called Project Follow Through, the goal of which was to determine the best way to teach at-risk children in kindergarten through third grade. Twenty-two different models of instruction were compared and the results showed overwhelmingly that the students who had been exposed to the Direct Instruction (DI) model had significantly higher academic achievement and self-esteem than the other 21 models.

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In other disciplines, such strong and clear results would have resulted in the widespread adoption of the successful model. But educators whose philosophy of teaching was at odds with the evidence-based DI model, and those with a financial stake in curricula that fared poorly in the experiment, prevented DI from being widely adopted.

Educators should abandon their unscientific theories of teaching and learning, which they get from psychology and child development, and instead adopt teaching practices based on a science of learning.

Henry D. Schlinger Jr., Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of psychology at Cal State Los Angeles.

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To the editor: I would edit the title of this editorial to read, "The grants that failed teachers."

If the country wants schools to succeed, provide teachers with one that would work: Grant them a place at the decision-making table.

Jane Williams Fleming, Long Beach

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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