homeSaving K-12 - - ReviewsAbout / News / Contact1: English and Education2: In Praise Of Stark Lucidity3: Latin Lives On + Greek Lives On4: An Inquiry Into Modifier Noun Proliferation5: Noun Overuse Phenomenon Article6: Let's Get Serious About Education7: A Smashing Victory8: A Metalinguistic Inquiry Into F9: Philosophy Weeps10: MAX Your Creativity11: What's All This Talk About Digital?12: "MAP" ALERT13: Precision Worth Preserving14: THEORYLAND15: "1984"--The Cover Up16: The Plight of Poetry17: Understanding Robots18: Tao Te Ching (followed by "Notes on the Spiritual Life")19: Form, Function, Foolishness20: The Quizz (or: Facts Are Fun!)21: A Tribute to Rudolf Flesch22: On Bullsh*t & Sophistry23: The Creativity Question24: Birds Like Us25: Phooey on John Dewey26: How To Teach History, Etc.27: Ivan Pavlov-- Education Goes To the Dogs28: Tips for Helping Your Child Do Better in School29: The Rules Of Poetry30: The War Against Reading31: Teacher Liberation Front32: Teaching Science--Science Is Fun33: How To Help A Non-Reader To Read34: The Con in Constructivism35: Most Eminent Authority In Reading-- Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld36: The Assault on Math37: Whole Word versus Phonics38: Saving Public Schools39: How To Teach Physics, Etc.40: Sight Words -- Dolch Words -- The Big Stupid41: Educators, O. J. Simpson, and Guilt42: Reading Resources43: American Basic Curriculum44: The Myth of Automaticity45: The Crusade Against Knowledge & Memory46: American Public Schools Designed To Fail47: Teach One Fact Each Day48: You Still Teach Sight Words??!!49: How Do We Learn & Teach50: Leading Boys to Reading51: Learning Styles: How Educators Divide Kids52: The Conspiracy Chronicles53: Education Establishment Hates Math54: Preemptive Reading55: Letters From Teachers / oldest first56: Top 10 Worst Ideas In Education57: Cooperative Learning58: How To Teach A Poem59: Critical Thinking--If Only60: Smart Content Makes Kids Smarter61: Early Literacy Pack--ELP62: Prior Knowledge--Strange New Religion63: PROJECT-BASED LEARNING64: Head Start -- how would it be done right??65: How They Wrecked The Schools,COMMENTS / newest firstNew American Curriculum--Five Point Reform PlanA Bill of Rights for Students 2020The Education EnigmaREADING THEORYINDEX/ SITE SEARCH /GOODIESEducator of the YearImprove Education BLOG"Saving K-12" -- Reviews

1) UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: I’ve been writing about education for 25+ years. Typically, I would read some startling detail in a magazine that didn’t make sense to me. I would wonder: so WHY can’t these kids read? so WHY are people showing up in college who don’t know what 6 x 7 is? so WHY do schools use techniques that turn out counterproductive? Etc., etc. I enjoy working on these puzzles. 
2) UNEXPECTED CONCLUSIONS: I’ve long been wary of our elite educators, because they didn’t seem to be good at their work and they tended to use a lot of jargon, which I think is a symptom of intellectual decay. But I didn’t anticipate that the more I researched, the more negative my verdict would be. These people, I concluded, became obsessed with social engineering, and slighted education. As a result, they have been dumbing down our country for 75+ years, and getting away with it to a remarkable degree. We have a lot of work to do if we hope to fix this damage.
3) UNEXPECTED ACCOMPLICES: Perhaps the most disgraceful thing is that the mainstream media and big universities stood mutely aside while the country was being dumbed down. (If anyone knows of a single Ivy League professor who jumped into the reading wars beside Rudolf Flesch, I want to hear the name.)

My local paper, and probably yours, covers education in a trivial way: as community affairs, bureaucrats hired and fired, test scores up and down. There is never curiosity about why, for example, test scores might be down.

4) UNEXPECTED OUTCOMES: American educators created 50 million functional illiterates, and high school graduates who can’t find this country on a map.
I’ve recently discovered Arthur Bestor’s book “Educational Wastelands --The Retreat from Learning in Our Public Schools.” Bestor was a distinguished professor and historian. You may sometimes think that I’m too critical, but I promise you that Bestor was more so. Consider how direly he worded his title. Wastelands. Then consider that this book was published in 1953!

I urge everyone to do what they can -- in the community, at work, through politics and the local media-- to put pressure on the public schools. Support diversity in education--private schools, vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling. Especially support the teaching of basic knowledge and a greater concern with making sure kids learn to read in the first few years of school.  

5) UNEXPECTED BOOKS: I woke up one day with the thought, why not make a book out of all these articles I have on the internet. That book is titled "THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened To American Education" (2009) (Available on Amazon.) Then, in 2017 came a second collection titled "SAVING K-12–- What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?" On Amazon, paper and e-book. A great gift for your smart friends.

These books present the information which people need to understand that the country’s schools were dumbed down deliberately, and now we have to improve them deliberately.
Here's the bad news. We are never going to have better schools unless the smarter, better educated, better-off people get involved. That probably means you. I am constantly amazed at the passivity and indifference of our upscale people. Apparently they have their kids in private school so nothing else matters.
6) UNEXPECTED VISTAS: I think there are three sets of victims in education today: students, parents, and teachers. A lot of times, unfortunately, teachers don’t realize they have been co-opted into helping with their own degradation. If schools were run intelligently, teachers would have a better life.

A formative anecdote from about 1990: A young teacher told me that she was having problems with her seventh graders. She asked the principal for help and he said: “The classroom is your problem.” I was tremendously offended by this. It’s his job to set the tone for his school and to back up his teachers. An Education Establishment that would create principals like this wasn't serious about education.
A theme throughout this site is that the Education Establishment talks a good game but, in truth, they are not very interested in education as most parents define the term. Our top educators are slaves to ideology. In the last few years I've become especially interested in reading because it seems to be a paradigm: an essential skill that everyone must have but educators somehow devise methods that don't work. If you doubt me, please see "42: Reading Resources"--the opening portion explains why we have so many millions of functional illiterates.
For ideas on fixing the schools in 2020, see Bill of Rights for Students 2020 and FREE THE SCHOOLS manifesto.
For a list of dysfunctional theories and methods that should be eliminated, see "56: Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education." 

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This video is 3 years old but I find myself coming back to it all the time.

Less than four minutes but almost the entire educational situation is

completely described by listing what good schools do versus what bad schools do.