As this blog has mentioned, the current Redeemer Classical school board members’ group read is Dr. E.D. Hirsch’s “The Schools We Need — And Why We Don’t Have Them.” Hirsch’s several bestsellers prompted greater attention to effective education among a variety of typically non-mainstream schools. He explains why the education “establishment” has been actively hostile to what cognitive scientists have shown are more effective teaching strategies and a core curriculum, and the terribly sad effects on kids and schools. Here’s another excerpt.
“In the economic sphere, consumers tend to know what they want. Consumer preference in schooling, by contrast, is not easily determined by the consumers themselves. For one thing, the results of schooling take a long time to show themselves. Even when parents know what they want to be achieved in the long run, they rarely have a clear conception of what they wish schools to be doing day by day in order to achieve it. This mixture of long-term clarity with short-term uncertainty explains a paradoxical finding: American parents think that our schools are failing in general (because they know the nationwide results are poor), whereas they think that their own child’s school (a clean, well-lighted place where lots of activity is going on) is performing well.”
He goes on to say that because many parents don’t know how to tell whether a school is academically effective, they typically assume most local schools are fine and use proximity to home to determine their school decision. That, as the rest of his book shows, consigns most American children to schools that offer an incoherent, ineffective curriculum that fails to help high achievers reach their advanced potential, deprives average and poor students of a robust curriculum that ensures they don’t have glaring knowledge holes, and increases education inequities.