Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Classroom bias: Starting 'em young

Really young, according to the Manhattan Institute's Sol Stern.

What all conscientious teachers ought instead to try to inculcate in students is "literacy for social equity and social justice," a literacy that can deconstruct language and show how it is used to maintain power and privilege in our current society.

These are the views of Brian Cambrough, a professor in New South Wales and a leader of the "whole-language movement." Cambrough's wisdom plays a dominant role in a new New York City public school how-to-teach-reading campaign.

Another unscientific theorist involved is Lucy Calkins, a professor at Columbia's Teachers College. Stern on Calkins:

As I pointed out in "Breaking Free," her approach to teaching reading and writing to young children is based on the Romantic idea that all children are "natural readers and writers" and should be encouraged to start scribbling in journals and rewriting composition drafts without worrying or being taught much about formal grammar or spelling. Under Ms. Calkins's tutelage, the city's new literacy curriculum encompassed two of progressive education's key commandments -- that teachers must not "drill and kill" and that children can "construct their own knowledge."

Or they can actually learn to read.

Pity the "liberated" schoolchildren. Those with dedicated parents will learn to read at home -- because they certainly won't get the instruction at school.

1 comment:

Rob Olson said...

"As I pointed out in "Breaking Free," her approach to teaching reading and writing to young children is based on the Romantic idea that all children are "natural readers and writers" and should be encouraged to start scribbling in journals and rewriting composition drafts without worrying or being taught much about formal grammar or spelling. Under Ms. Calkins's tutelage, the city's new literacy curriculum encompassed two of progressive education's key commandments -- that teachers must not "drill and kill" and that children can "construct their own knowledge.""

I know that this is an old post, but I hope that you don't mind me asking for your sources here. It would be immensely helpful, as I combat the ideas of Dewey here in the Midwest. Could you point me in the right direction?

All of the public schools in our county have embraced Calkins. As a seventh and eighth grade English teacher, it concerns me that this program is having such influence, even in my daughter's chartered public school that is supposedly committed to classical education. I am also on the board of directors of another charter school here, and I am ashamed to say that I voted to approve this program before we got all of the facts.

The best book that I have read recently, one that thoroughly and scholarly questions the NCTE's progressive approach to writing and grammar, is The War Against Grammar by David Mulroy.

Thank you so much!

Best of wishes to all Columbia Libertarians from good old paleoconservative Hillsdale!

Rob