The Triumph of Training over Education

Not all that long ago, college followed a predictable pattern: two years of general education requirements followed by two years of courses in the chosen major. No longer. As this review of course requirements shows, even some of the liberal arts colleges have minimized requirements outside the major. Of all the potential causes for the…

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Is Your School Increasing the Achievement Gap?

I have a very simple proposition: The more we teach, the more students learn—but some students get taught more than others. There’s plenty of evidence to back me up, so I’ll just go with the most recent study I’ve seen that make this point. Bill Schmidt and his research team found that all around the…

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With “The Science of Learning,” These Deans Will Have an Impact

Twenty years ago, as a psychology major focused on learning and memory, I took a history of psychology course that included phrenology, Freud, Skinner, Piaget, and Vygotsky, among other ideas and theorists. A few years later, as a doctoral student in education policy, I took a child development class that claimed to be current and…

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Stop Reforming, Start Improving

This post first appeared on The Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog. “Programmatic series of studies”—that’s how one of my psychology professors described research on learning and memory around twenty years ago. Do a study, tweak it, try again. Persist. I was reminded of that while reading Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get…

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“Putting Real Food on the Plate”

“I am in the medical field and while I ‘hated’ learning anatomy, I am not sure you would want me to treat you unless I had it memorized,” writes LSC from Seattle. That’s just one of the hundreds of comments in response to a terrific op-ed by Natalie Wexler in the New York Times. Wexler…

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Joy Hakim’s Science Stories: Proof that Informative Can Be Engaging

Kiana Hernandez is a young woman who opted out of a standardized test last spring. She had her reasons, as the Mother Jones article about her details, but that’s not what interests me about her story. What grabbed me is the reading instruction she received—or endured: She’d failed the Florida reading test every year since…

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Dear Alliance: You Almost Nailed It

The Alliance for Excellent Education has a new report: The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA. It’s definitely worth reading, making many crucial points about supporting literacy from kindergarten through twelfth grade in a few pages. There’s just one problem: it does not discuss building broad academic knowledge. Like almost all discussions of literacy, the…

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Why Is Creativity in Decline?

For the past 25 years, creativity has been in decline. I’ve just started to look into it, so I won’t pretend to have an answer—but I do have a hunch. We’re trivializing creativity. First the research. Kyung Hee Kim is a professor of creativity and innovation at The College of William & Mary. She’s found…

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Mississippi: Common Core Lite

Mississippi is a little more than half way through a public comment period on the 2014 Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts—a document that is co-branded with the Common Core and Mississippi Department of Education logos on every page. The Common Core squabbles in Mississippi became interesting last week when a…

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Interrupting the Cycle of Poverty

Of all the reasons to continuously try to improve our schools, one of the most important is interrupting the cycle of poverty. Just imagine a world in which schools have a greater impact on achievement than families. That may be far off (though not impossible), but the work educators currently do every day has the potential…

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