When Progressive Teaching Meets The Reality Of Human Children – Not A Pretty Sight

That progressive ideas have a certain problem when they meet – and thus conflict – with reality is obvious. If we really all were the entirely cooperative beings that certain economic theories suppose then socialism would work. As it doesn’t then we have to question that core belief about the inherent cooperativeness. Another way of saying much the same thing is that if incentives didn’t matter then that same socialism would work. It don’t so therefore serious consideration must be given to the idea that incentives – direct and personal incentives – matter. As this is one of the core proposals and lessons of economics we can indeed say that socialism is in violation of the basic tenets of economics.

And so to progressive teaching methods:

Progressive teaching methods have fuelled rise in poor discipline, bad behaviour tsar says

Well, yes, obviously. For there are those who obviously require a clip around the ear and equally obviously those – today – who don’t get it. But that’s to be reactionary and fascist and, despite sometime appearances, this isn’t the Reactionary Times and Feudal Herald.

There’s still a certain problem with those progressive assumptions:

Progressive teaching methods have fuelled the rise in poor discipline, the Government’s bad behaviour tsar has said. Tom Bennett, who has been appointed by ministers to head up a taskforce into bad behaviour at schools, said that for several decades the issue has been “swept under the carpet”. In his first interview since his appointment, he said progressivism – the dominant ideology in education which became popular in the 1960s and 70s – has led to low level disruption going unchallenged. “There was a massive assumption that children would behave if you simply planned lessons correctly, if you allowed them to do lots of independent work, project work, group work and so on, and that these teaching methods would create great behaviour” he told The Telegraph.

Well, quite. We’ve that usual observation to make about progressive plans. Those making the plans seem to have met remarkably few humans, those who they desire to apply those plans to. The average five year old human just isn’t as the theory supposes the anklebiters are:

But these methods have been phased out in favour of the progressive “child-centred” learning methods, where the emphasis is on keeping students interested by allowing them to learn from each other rather than exclusively taking instruction from the teacher. This approach may involve asking students to work together in small groups, discuss issues among themselves and express their opinion. Child-centred methods have also been characterised as allowing pupils to proceed at their own pace and make discoveries independent of the teacher.

As PJ O’Rourke has been known to note, only people who have never dated an El Ed major fail to understand what is wrong with education. We’re not exactly recruiting the brains of our generation into that workforce. Which is of course why that workforce falls for the sort of tripe the progressives tell them about teaching snots.

“Progressivism rests on the idea that children want to behave and they want to learn, the teacher needs to step back and allow the child to explore their natural curiosity, which will motivate them and keep them engaged,” Mr Bennett said.

Isn’t that fun as an assumption? Because if it were true then we wouldn’t need trained teachers in schools, would we? The brats want to learn, they will learn therefore. Actually, we don’t even need schools. Just release them into the wild somewhere near a library and they’ll get on with it themselves.

Ah, you say, that wouldn’t work? Then and therefore our assumption about all just wanting to learn is wrong, isn’t it?

To approach the same point alternatively. If kiddies just thirst for that knowledge to be imparted then why do we monitor truancy? If the first assertion is true then there won’t be any of the second. If we have incidence of the second – and we do indeed have a system to both monitor and try to prevent it – then the first assertion cannot be true. Not of all, all the time that is. And that’s all we need to be able to insist that a teaching method based upon its universal existence is wrong.

Not for the first time Progressivism fails when applied to actual human beings.

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Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Progressivism is a rather strange phenomena for it appears to be progressing at a disturbing rate away from progress. According to an internal OECD report, which likely will be published in the autumn, the UK is the only country in the world where grandparents are better educated than their grandchildren. Of course children do learn from each other and so they should, in the playground. Quite how in the classroom they can educate themselves as to the intricacies of spherical trigonometry, boolean algebra or Aristotelian deductive logic is unclear. Although equally their teachers might well not be a better source… Read more »

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

The thing is, they’re redefined “progressive” away from its mathematic definition of: each stage builds upon previous stages, and redefined it as something along the lines of “nice, but by *our* definition of ‘nice’.”. cf “progressive” taxation. That’s a purely mathematical definition, that taxation levels are build upon previous taxation levels, but the Progressives (capital P) have redefined it to mean something like “tool for changing society”. so much so that you can’t say “X is a non-progressive system” as that’s heard as “this is EEEVULLLL!”

timworstall
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timworstall

This is much easier in American, where “Progressive” means a certain type of Democrat and “progressive” means that mathematical thing about tax rates. That marginal rates are above average as income rises.

The two aren’t, of course, the same, “Progressivism” is what “Progressives” like. For example, Progressives get very angry when you point out that the Federal tax system is markedly more progressive than that in Sweden etc.

James Morgan
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James Morgan

Well. Yes and no. In the 80s I was a Science teacher at a Comprehensive school in Chiswick (London). One of my groups was the ‘CPVE’ group – made up of kids who academically were not suitable for standard GCSEs. So I wrote what I thought was a jolly splendid curriculum for them (you could do that in those days) – made up of lots of scienc-ey things and presented it to them on the first day of term (they had one year to go before they could leave) – and was met with a wall of apathy. So I… Read more »

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

And what did they learn about science?

Q46
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Q46

They learned they only had to do stuff they liked, which is not the case in the outside unprogressive World.

James Morgan
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James Morgan

They learned they were not going anywhere after class (ie they were not leaving) till they put all the tools back where they belonged. I think that alone was worth the time.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

No wonder the NUT is against performance related pay for teachers.

James Morgan
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James Morgan

The NUT. What a joke they were. Absolute waste of time.

James Morgan
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James Morgan

Most of them could spell ‘and’ by the end – and had the attention to detail to both notice and then give a shit.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

My typo was fixed before you replied. If you saw it in a notification email then there’s nothing I can do about that as they go immediately. Perhaps if you took the time to read the responses before firing off a sarcastic answer you wouldn’t come across as a cockwomble. So they learnt nothing about science then from your answer? What does that say about you as a teacher? Putting away the tools in the metalwork shop is not giving them a science education. Why weren’t you doing what your job entailed? Was it because you didn’t want to do… Read more »

James Morgan
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James Morgan

Why am I getting the feeling you’ve never had to teach a group like that yourself? Probably because you haven’t. Go get yourself a job teaching a bunch of lowest-IQ’s 15-16yr olds Matt – try it for a year – see how you get on and then get back and tell me what you found worked and what didn’t. OK? Then we can compare notes.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

No thanks. I have a job that pays much better than teaching without the hassle of the brats.

But you seem to have missed part of Tim’s article:

We’re not exactly recruiting the brains of our generation into that workforce. Which is of course why that workforce falls for the sort of tripe the progressives tell them about teaching snots.

Or to put it another way, those who can’t – teach.

James Morgan
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James Morgan

I can see you’re really not much of a fan of the profession. Not all teachers are crap. Have a nice day Matt.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

My grandma and grandad entered teaching in the 1940s when it was a profession, and back in the home town it was seen as you’d “made it” in the same way as becoming a solicitor, doctor or accountant. They lived long enough to see it becoming a job, with all that that brings with it.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

“We’d buy old motorcycles, do them up, learn to ride them” YES!!!! In huge font size, YES! This is EXACTLY what my old school used to do with the non-academic kids. Get them into the motor workshop, stripping down and rebuilding vehicles, while at the same time learning the academics they needed, maths and english, that supported the non-academic stuff they were doing, resulting in them leaving school with a clutch of good ‘O’ levels, with a skill-set that let them enter work, or even explore further education. We got “thick” kids who fourty years on were chief engineers somewhere.… Read more »

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

When I was at Primary and early Secondary I would have loved to bunk off to spend the day in the local library, as it was I was spending most of my Saturdays there, poring over old maps. At secondary I found I could be a pupil librarian which let me have unlimited access to the library, then in Upper School discovered computers. I was turning up at 7:50 and staying until 6:30.