Admitting the mistake and correcting it

With the school year over, parents and students are hearing urges to “keep reading,” or keep practicing something to do with education during the summer, but teachers can also use this time to work on how to eliminate teaching methods based on memorization (which they learned in their failed teacher training programs).

The idea behind NCLB (2002) and ESSA (2015) was to eliminate memorization from education because memorizing some factoid represents the end result of a process that is overlooked but valuable in developing higher order thinking skills. Every time elementary teachers provide sight words to memorize, they are depriving students of the opportunity to learn the underlying phonics process that can be used to sound out additional similar word sounds as language development advances in a lifetime of learning new words. Every time elementary teachers tell students to memorize math facts, they are depriving students of the opportunity to learn the underlying process of math and how it is used as an information processing system (beginning about 2,500 years ago).

Focusing on the process of concepts in place of memorization allows more latitude with explanations and real life examples all learning styles can use to learn. The past practice of memorization left out some learning styles completely and reduced the ability of others to learn, but failed teacher training programs falsely blamed the students as being defective rather than the system of memorization. Unfortunately, too many teachers still consider students defective once poor teaching methods have put them behind due to their learning style. This is completely unfair to these students because it deprives them of the civil right to access education free from discrimination — as the Supreme Court is finally saying.

Special Ed has failed to effectively remediate for decades because of the false belief students were defective, and that belief continues today, unfortunately. Summer school has been a failure for the same reason: complete failure of the schools to recognize what they did wrong to put students behind in the first place. When each of us makes a mistake, the first step is recognizing that we made the mistake in the first place. The next step is figuring out how (or why) we made the mistake. The last step is making the correction. Schools are failing to make effective corrections because they cannot admit their mistake and do not know how they caused it.