Have you noticed that in education everything is always new? New learning theories, new programs, new methods, new technology, new facilities. The world of education thrives on the "next big thing". From Progressive Education to open classroom to outcome-based education to No Child Left Behind to Race To The Top, to hands-on learning, to 21st Century Skills, to Common Core. American schooling always seem to be on the precipe of success. In all this marketing and hype, the one thing that doesn't seem to improve is student achievement.
American education remains near the bottom of international comparisons and test scores are stagnant. New theories and programs work well for educational experts; they don't seem to help students much.
Perhaps it is time to revert to what actually did work for centuries in America's past. The old ways of learning seem simple by today's standards. Students were taught a new concept and they drilled, memorized, practiced, and reviewed until they got it. Nobody promised that learning would be fun - it was work. What kids discovered is that work that leads to success is satisfying and motivates a person to want to learn more. Kids memorized their multiplication tables, their prepositions, and their history facts and once they got, they got it.
For most people, new means better so drill and memorization are not welcome words. However, they produced results. In sports, results matter. Coaches drill and practice all the time to develop their players, they don't spend a lot of time on self-esteem traing or feel-good athletics. They want to win. If we adopted the same strategies in the classroom as we do on the court, we would produce students focused on mastering the material.
It is unfortunate that we are so suspicious of the old ways of doing things. We are becoming a country that is rejecting its past and our children are suffering because of it.
"Thus says the Lord, "stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said we will not walk in it." Jeremiah 6:16