Saturday, September 29, 2007

Supposedly Direct Instruction works...

According to this book, Direct Instruction works, at least thats what Marginal Revolution says:

Ayres argues that large experimental studies have shown that the teaching method which works best is Direct Instruction (here and here are two non-academic discussions which summarizes much of the same academic evidence discussed in Ayres). In Direct Instruction the teacher follows a script, a carefully designed and evaluated script. As Ayres notes this is key:

DI is scalable. Its success isn't contingent on the personality of some uber-teacher....You don't need to be a genius to be an effective DI teacher. DI can be implemented in dozens upon dozens of classrooms with just ordinary teachers. You just need to be able to follow the script.

Contrary to what you might think, the data also show that DI does not impede creativity or self-esteem. The education establishment, however, hates DI because it is a threat to the power and prestige of teaching, they prefer the model of teacher as hero. As Ayres says "The education establishment is wedded to its pet theories regardless of what the evidence says." As a result they have fought it tooth and nail so that "Direct Instruction, the oldest and most validated program, has captured only a little more than 1 percent of the grade-school market."

Who would of thought...

Update: Go read the comments, pretty interesting, with the usual character showing up to enlighten the idiots.

Gifted: No Thank You!

Even though my 4th grade son was in the gifted program at his last school, I declined to have him tested for the gifted program here in Anchorage. I asked around and discovered that the gifted program here was exactly like I feared it would be.

It wasn't all that hard a decision. His experience last year in South Carolina was a waste of time. He colored more posters in his gifted class than he did in art class.

It seems like the supervisor of Anchorage's gifted program ran across my post, and is concerned (last comment), to quote her:

Last week there was a Gifted Parent Forum in Anchorage and its too bad you did not attend. There was much discussion about Gifted Education and the challenges educators face when trying to meet the educational needs of gifted children.
I am more concerned about the challenges that gifted children have, than the challenges of their teachers.

Except for the Individualized Acceleration (IA) Program at Rogers Park Elementary, Anchorage's IGNITE gifted program consists of "enrichment opportunities that incorporates universal themes with classroom learning in alignment with the district's standards and goals".

It seems to me that the biggest challenge that gifted teachers have is finding enough time wasting "enrichment" activities to spend time doing to prevent the kids from getting to far ahead.

Amazingly they have a different standard for the highly gifted. If you score in the 99.5 percentile on an IQ test you get to be taught at an accelerated pace, but if you score at the 96-99.4 percentile all you get is extra projects.

No thank you... I will stick to after-schooling.

p.s. I have spoken to several Anchorage teachers in several different grades and several different schools about the gifted program. Off the record, a few of them said it was a waste of time, while most were tactfully neutral. Not a single one praised it.

Disclaimer: it is entirely possible that my son would not qualify for Anchorage's gifted program, as the cutoff here is 2 percentile points higher, but I can't be bothered to find out.