Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hope Yet

Dennis over at The Trenches of Public Education has been doing his homework. He regularly butts heads with Kevin over at D Ed-Recknoning, and today posted an article addressing their disagreements head on. In it, Dennis says the following:

KDeRosa's tirades against public schools are based on his contention that we are using faulty teaching methods, and he makes constant references to something called "
Project Follow Through." At first, I didn't know what he was talking about.

And then…

I spent about three years taking classes to earn a Masters, and I heard lots about cooperative learning, multiple intelligences, and all that other progressive stuff. During all of that I never even heard Direct Instruction mentioned. (Neither was the name, E. D. Hirsch, or the term, cultural literacy.) If the articles I've read on Project Follow Through are at all true, and Direct Instruction performed that much better than the other methods, how in the world could this have happened?

I will be truthful here. When I read this last paragraph, I honestly thought that Dennis was being sarcastic, but apparently not… because he goes on to say

But if there's a teaching method out there that can help us be more effective for more kids--possibly much more effective--why aren't policy-makers and education schools telling us about it?


Although I don't think any teaching method will make as big a difference as he believes, I'll take any improvement we can get. I think a lot of us should be taking a very good look at Direct Instruction.

I suspect that many teachers won’t have a choice but to take a look at DI. NCLB flawed or not is here to stay. Eventually it will force schools to use every trick and/or method at their disposal to raise test scores. Even schools in affluent neighborhoods are in danger of being called failures due to AYP requirements. The current trendy educational methods have ran their course and proven to be ineffective at improving the scores of disadvantaged children, there is no where left to go but to models such as Direct Instruction. With the increasing popularity of charter schools and advent of school vouchers on the horizon, public schools are going to have to go back to the drawing board. There will be a lot of discontent but eventually you can’t fight science and research, only delay its implementation.

Finally let me say, that I admire Dennis greatly and he and I have some great debate over various issues. I am especially impressed that he took the time to research a subject with an open mind. Even though I am a critic of the current educational system, it is because of teachers like Dennis that I am encouraged that our system can improve. We can argue all we want about constructivism vs. Direct Instruction, but when it comes right down to it, our children depend on dedicated professional teachers to make it all happen.

On a related note, please forgive my blatant grammatical errors and spelling errors I made when commenting on Dennis's blog. I had been watching the Ohio State kick Texas ass and had a few beers :) By the way, just to clear things up, I am a USC fan.


Dennis Fermoyle said...

Rory, no problem on the errors. Last week I did a couple of comments while I was in the middle of doing some sailing with Captain Morgan, so I know how you feel. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!

rory said...

Ouch, Captain Morgans, you really are my hero. I can only do beer, and not very much anymore. I lived in Europe for 12 years and spoiled my pallet.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Rory, I forgot to mention that I thought what you had to say about the military using something similar to DI was very interesting. We hear over and over again that our military is the best trained in the world. You guys are obviously doing something right.

And regarding the Captain Morgans: I'm glad I'm your hero because I sure wasn't my own hero the next morning!