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Discussion: Research Area
Topic: More on Drill and Kill, practice and learning


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Subject:   RE: More on Drill and Kill, practice and learning
Author: rabeldin
Date: Jan 17 2005
I made the opposite choices from you. When I realized how much practice I would
need to become proficient with the accordion, I consciously decided to spend my
time on something else (after two years of instruction). When I realized how
much time I would have to dedicate to becoming a decent golfer, I dropped the
game (after only two attempts). I have always been a quick study so when
something demands more concentrated effort than I want to invest, I can usually
find something else to work on.

Practice is essential, but for math it isn't enough. If illumination doesn't
come, all the practice will leave one with disjointed skills. We have to present
ideas in as many forms as we can so that students will go beyond rote drill to
insight.

My concern is that public education is too much in the hands of bureaucrats
whose teaching experience is old and musty. The paradigm of centrally managed
education has failed. Every teacher needs to be the authority within his or her
classroom. If the boards of education can't trust the people they hire with that
responsibility, they are paying too little and demanding too little.

Of course, delegating authority to competent and committed teachers is not a
solution that will scale well. It works for one room schools with children of
diverse ages and talents but how many of these can we create? Obviously, we
can't educate the masses that way. So, we need to develop a triage solution.

There are three classes of children we must identify. The best don't need
teachers;  they can and will teach themselves if we get out of the way. The
worst don't need teachers, they need nursemaids or keepers. Those who are too
unintelligent or too rebellious are just a handicap in the classroom. Teachers
need to be free to work with those who really need them and can take advantage
of the teaching.

Even that reduction is not enough. There are still too many children of average
talent and willingness to be taught. So, the solution is to raise the price of
admission to the school because its resources are scarce. Money, however, is not
the price to be paid. That would make it too easy for the wealthy to just pay
the high price for childcare.

How can we raise the non-monetary price of education? That is the question we
still have to answer.

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