We need to completely rewrite the textbooks on how to teach teachers

Monday, September 10th, 2018

We need to completely rewrite the textbooks on how to teach teachers:

That’s according to a new report just published by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The report describes a vast and severe failure of teacher-training courses and the textbooks that accompany them to convey evidence-based practices; while delivering unsupported anecdotal evidence and well-debunked myths in spades. The report is accompanied by a letter of support signed by an assortment of professors of psychology and learning sciences from universities around the world.

The report finds that out of 48 texts used in teacher-training programs none accurately described fundamental evidence-based teaching strategies comprehensively. Only 15 percent had more than a single page devoted to evidence-based practices; the remainder contained either zero or only a few sentences on methods that have been backed up by the decades of scientific findings that exist in the field of educational psychology.

Missing from these textbooks were detailed explanations of six core strategies that have been found to be backed by evidence, which every teacher should know and use. The strategies aren’t new; they were identified by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, as being the most effective techniques in all classrooms regardless of age or subject in guidance released in 2007.

Six Core Strategies Identified by Institute of Education Sciences


  1. Albion says:

    As someone who has taught, albeit in a limited capacity, I would say that the feeling when you are taught to teach is that you — like the students — have to learn what to do. Perhaps with good reason, because it is important to find out what the students are really like, and theory however well presented cannot prepare you for reality.

    So the bad manners, the (supposedly) smart answers, the lack of willingness to learn anything, the time-wasting and the general mayhem are the reality. No amount of advice can help you when you get on the chalk face; you have to deal with what is in front of you and get to grips quickly with it all. Some students are great, most are okay, some are anonymous, and several are utterly dreadful. And yes, you are on your own.

    I’d like to see that in a handy chart.

  2. Kentucky Headhunter says:

    Albion gives a good example of what’s wrong with a lot of teachers today, seeing as how they missed the point of the linked article, which was talking about teacher training materials and not classroom conditions.

  3. Kirk says:

    The whole thing is suspiciously full of buzzwords, which leads a cynic like me to think that they’re more concerned about rearranging the deck chairs than the gaping hole below the water line…

    Teaching someone a task is not rocket science; the principles are well-established, and the process is relatively simple. The problem is, the people running our educational system can’t leave well enough alone, and keep working hard to justify their existence by constantly changing the “conventional wisdom”.

    Once upon a time, the Army had a very effective system in place for training the trainers. This was back in the pre-computer days, when most training schedules were done on mimeograph machines, and the training schedules were filled with things like “Squad Leader’s Time”, “Platoon Leader’s Time”, and “Commander’s Time”. You were expected to know what the hell your priorities were, and to fill your time at the appropriate level with appropriate activities, and the training you conducted was supposed to be done in accordance with the BTMS system, where the Task, Conditions, and Standards were clearly laid out in the manuals you used to plan and conduct training. It was simplistic, but… It worked. Along with that simplistic approach, where leadership was accountable for performance in periodic field exercise evaluations, they conducted training on how to plan, prepare, and conduct training for the leadership at all levels. This actually worked, in that you’d have these retired senior NCOs and officers running the training for the leadership, and doing evaluations of how you planned and presented your instruction. I hate to say it, but most of the guys doing this did better at the instructional art than most of my college-educated middle- and high-school teachers did. Could arguably have been that the disciplinary structure provided by the Army made it easier to teach, but the process just worked better–I can’t remember ever having an algebra teacher lay out the task, the conditions, or a standard of any kind, in any rational and understandable fashion. Most of them just got up in front of the class, and played “stump the chump”, if they really understood the material themselves. My first exposure to a real math instructor was one of our Majors who had taught at West Point, and this guy was a complete ass on duty. Off-duty, as a teacher? Totally different guy, and you could see the influence that military training technique had on how he instructed.

    None of this stuff is rocket science; it’s all well-known material, and the techniques of passing it on to the student have worked historically. It’s just that we’ve abandoned most of the things that worked, chasing the latest bright idea to come welling up from the education theorists like so much froth on a sewage tank. Most of the teachers I’ve observed in the classroom have no real idea how to manage a class, or how to effectively convey information. A lot of them can’t even seem to grasp the basics of what they’re teaching–You want to see really atrocious grammar? Hang around a staff lounge, sometime. When my mom finally retired after teaching into her seventies, one of the things they gave her a hard time about was her tendency to make corrections on all the other teachers, and I have to admit that she can be annoying. However, huge ‘effing comma, if you ever saw some of the email traffic or any of the work product that a lot of those “teachers” produced, you’d be appalled that they ever even got hired in the first damn place. I swear to God, I’ve seen stuff that I could have sworn was from a maleducated sixth-grader, and it was actually from a college-grad education major who was supposed to be teaching primary grades. Sad, sad stuff–The standards of today have really gone to hell in a handbasket. It’s no damn wonder the kids don’t learn to read, write, or do simple sums–A lot of their teachers probably can’t, either.

  4. Ross says:

    Maybe I’m new to this but…my only question is: how could one teach and *avoid* doing most/all of these?

  5. Kirk says:


    It’s easy if you first throw out everything practical experience tells you about how to pass on information, and substitute a metric f**k-ton of theoretical nonsense you talk yourself into because you and the people who’ve taken over your profession don’t really know how to teach, in the first place…

    The striking thing about much of modern civilization, if we can term it as such, is just how much we’ve consciously abandoned from our forbears, on the delusional theory that they knew nothing pertinent to the modern condition. We rarely think in terms of knowledge chains, a la James Burke in his series Connections, and the people we have allowed primacy in much of our educational system are simultaneously both ignorant and contemptuous of our past. Which is how pedagogy, something we’ve effectively done for literally thousands of years, has been turned into such a morass of badly thought-out outright BS. Whole language? WTF? Hell, we’ve run that experiment dozens of times since the idiots came up with it, and the fact is that phonics works while teaching a kid to read a phonetic alphabet by mimicking the worst features of an ideographic one clearly does not. Yet, we still do it… At this point, I’m almost ready to embrace the conspiracy theory explanation for why the education establishment keeps doing this stupid crap that goes against copious evidence that it plainly does not work.

    My favorite anecdote from this goes back to my mom’s teaching instructors. One of the professors she had espoused the whole language approach, and that’s what they insisted that their students must use when teaching out in the real world… Only thing was, the professor’s own kid? Was being taught using… Phonics. Why? Because “…their kid was different, and could handle the challenges better…”.

    There was also her child psychology professor who had never raised kids, or been around them much… Dude was single and as “alternatively sexual” as you could get, and he’s teaching teachers how kids think. Supposedly. The limited contact I had with the guy as a participant in his classes as a test subject convinced me that a.) he didn’t like kids, and b.) the guy didn’t know a damn thing about them, either.

    Looking back on it, I think that’s where started to develop my deep antipathy towards the educational establishment… I really don’t like being a test subject for idiots, which was how I spent a bit of time as a kid while my Mom finished her degree for teaching.

  6. Sam J. says:

    “The striking thing about much of modern civilization, if we can term it as such, is just how much we’ve consciously abandoned from our forbears, on the delusional theory…”

    I’m with you. It’s striking the blatant in-your-face stupidity and cleaving to things that over and over have proved to be disasters while making excuses for why they don’t work.

  7. Sam Fetters says:

    “Teaching”, like most else, has become merely a systematic process.
    Two of the main goals of this systematic teaching are efficiencies, and reductionism.

    Teachers are only given so much time to present a pre-determined set of information to a wide range of minds, personalities, etc.

    No processes or time is allowed to account for divergence, nor varied intellects in students.

    This is not meant to be harse, but most Teachers I know are just systematic followers.
    The system recognizes as “good” those Teachers that simply comply with, and follow the systematic processes.

    As such, fewer and fewer Teachers themselves are taught or posses these skills.
    Reasoning skills, common sense, the ability to dededuce, analysis of varying sets of data & information, the ability to discern between those varying sets, and other cognitive skills are highly absent.

    It’s interesting to note that some of the biggest proponents of the Common Core initiative include Microsoft and Bill Gates.
    They simply want people whom can learn to comply with systems that benefit large corporations.

    It’s less thinking and more doing. Students and Teachers are judged most solely on summative assessments.

    Not everyone can cope, or thrive with certain core objectives.
    Just as not everyone is equally talented in the skills of music, or art, or writing, similarly, not everyone is skilled in the precessing of information, or of math, or chemistry.

    Individual skills and talents are not the focus….certain common reductionist objectives and traits are.

    Yet, and in fact, the biggest and best innovations have emerged from divergent thought/thinkers.

    Bertrand Russell wrote – “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

    This is in stark contract to the previous commenter whom wrote – “The problem is, the people running our educational system can’t leave well enough alone, and keep working hard to justify their existence by constantly changing the “conventional wisdom”.”

    “Conventional wisdom” is constantly evolving.
    Much of what was believed 100, 50, even 10 years ago has been debunked.

    One can’t keep teaching, nor believing that the world is flat, and that the earth is the center of the universe.

    It has been the non-conventional thinkers whom have continued to lead us closer to truths.

    Creativity breeds progression.
    Change is not necessarly bad, as long as that change provides general societal benefits.

  8. Kirk says:

    And, thus Mr. Fetters demonstrates the problem: You want creativity in an arena where it is neither desirable nor beneficial. What purpose does “creativity” serve, when it is encouraged in subjects who haven’t even mastered the basics?

    Nine-tenths of the problems I suffered in advanced math came about because the soooper-geniuses who developed the curriculum and taught me basic math found “drill and kill” math “boring” and “uncreative”. Instead of being taught to master my multiplication tables up to 16, the way my grandparents were, I was instead taught a bunch of “fun games”. So, when the time came to start using those memorized facts to make sense of the patterns in more advanced math… I simply did not have the necessary tools with which to grasp those relationships and patterns. It was only in later life, after much angst, that I went back and started trying to make up the deficits. Which, I’ll point out, my more traditional grandparent’s pedagogues would not have left me with.

    Save your “creativity” for your fan fiction; basic education has no place for that bullshit. You can’t even begin to understand things without a thorough grounding in the basics, which is what your vaunted “creativity” in education shortchanges, creating generations of self-actualized and self-esteeming ignoramuses and idiots. You don’t know the facts, and you haven’t been taught the tools to work them out, you’re going to go through life suffering the consequences, “creativity” be damned.

  9. Kirk says:

    Another thing with regards to this… The general erosion of standards and accountability.

    It’s not just the FBI and the self-entitled assholes we’ve put into power throughout government; it’s also in the schools and daily life. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, and tell someone that they don’t measure up; that their performance or conduct is unacceptable. Nor do they want to go to the trouble of actually doing something about it.

    The Parkland shootings? Mostly stem from this factor–Nobody wants to tell someone that their kid has issues, and needs to be dealt with. Further, nobody wants to admit their kid has problems; they’re going to defend them to the death, even after they shoot up a school.

    Parkland and the earlier shooting at Sandy Hook both happened because the parents were completely unwilling to acknowledge the fact that they were parents of a dangerous kid. The warning signs were there, were they to have paid attention–Yet, they didn’t. Both sets of parents (and, I hold the poor deluded bastards who took in the Parkland shooter somewhat less responsible, being as they didn’t know all of the kids issues that well…) willfully and wantonly ignored the facts about their children, and took no action to prevent them from harming others. Both of those shooters should have been institutionalized long before their killings happened–And, yet, they were not. Hell, in both cases, the “parental figures” involved actually did things to enable both of those freaks to do what they did–One even taught her son to shoot, and took him shooting as a “wholesome sport activity”. Meanwhile, online, unsupervised, that kid was making lists of notorious serial killers and posting about how he wanted to emulate them.

    The whole thing starts from the minute stuff… Nobody says a word, when some jackass leaves a cart out in the parking lot, instead of returning it to the store or corralling it properly. Why? Because they’re afraid to say anything, to hold others to a standard. We’ve spent generations inculcating “non-judgmentalism” in the public, and this is what we have to show for it. Today, if you were going to want to see something done about misconduct in public, you’d damn near have to be raping a pre-teen openly in public, before most people would start “judging you” and doing something about it.

    Civilization starts to deteriorate about the time people start “looking the other way”, and not bothering to “do the right thing”. I’m guilty of this, myself, but part of the reason I don’t do the things I probably should is that nobody around me cares to support what I’m doing, and then most actively condemn me for involving myself.

    In the military, you can tell a “good unit” by how well the members of that unit comply with the rules when nobody is watching. And, that grows up out of a willingness from the leadership and peers to actually establish and enforce standards in a positive way.

    I used to work with a guy who made me cringe, on many occasions–He was totally unafraid to lean out of the window of a moving car I was driving, stop me, and chew some random junior soldier or NCO’s ass for doing the wrong thing, like walking across the grassed areas or littering, instead of using the sidewalk.

    At the time, I was not at all supportive–Those were not my troops, after all, who I’d gladly take a piece out of, but someone else’s… What I later came to realize was that my social cowardice was part and parcel of why those assholes felt entitled to break the rules and discipline; you want discipline in the large things, you have to start with the small.

    What we’re suffering in our society and civilization is that same problem, writ large. We’re not policing the small things, and they’re growing up into the “big things”. You look the other way while your buddy fiddles his travel paperwork to get more money, and the next thing you know, he’s going down for embezzlement and your company is bankrupt. It’s upon these minute things that civilization is built upon, and we’ve allowed and even encouraged the erosion of them, until what we have isn’t a civilization so much as a gaping sinkhole into which everything is collapsing.

    And, a lot of this starts in and with the education system.

  10. Artur Meaningless says:

    “Consider education not as the painful accumulation of facts and dates and reigns, nor merely the necessary preparation of the individual to earn his keep in the world, but as the transmission of our mental, moral, technical, and aesthetic heritage as fully as possible to as many as possible, for the enlargement of man’s understanding, control, embellishment, and enjoyment of life.”

    The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

  11. Phil O Sophist says:

    “You want creativity in an arena where it is neither desirable nor beneficial. What purpose does ‘creativity’ serve, when it is encouraged in subjects who haven’t even mastered the basics?”

    And yet it was creativity that inspired many of the greatest mathematicians like Pythagoras, Einstein, Girolamo Cardano, Johannes Kepler, C.F. Gauss, and too many others to name.
    None relied on “convention”.
    Thus, creativity has served everything you now find as conventional.

    Wow, you are obviously one angry dude.
    You should consider reading “Thinking, Fast & Slow” by Daniel Khaneman, if you haven’t.

    You are seemingly so emotionally charged, you can’t think straight, nor logically.
    You just seem to want to lash out at anything & everything.

    You missed a valuable point – “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

    Everything you now consider “basic”, was once creative, eccentric.

    You should also consider reading “The Cheese and the Worms” by Carlo Ginzburg, regarding microhistory, and how pop culture can influence our thoughts, opinions, “knowledge”.

    You’re seemingly lost solely in your time.
    You seemingly can’t comprehend of times prior, like when your “basic education” was a radical departure of the previous norm.

    Interestingly, your apparent inability to recognize this above fact completely negates your entire argument.
    Everything you think you know, and the way you were taught, that you’re now defending, would’ve been criticized by you in previous times, as “creative”, when things were different back then.

    You’re making a circular argument.
    You have committed the logical fallacy of “circulus in probando”, aka “circle in proving”; also known as “circular logic”.

    Calm down, focus on thinking straight.
    Consider other view before flying off the handle.
    It’s the man whom thinks he knows it all whom truly knows nothing.

    Nothing is constant. You just seem to have a lot of trouble coping with change, and that very real concept.
    And that is the real tragedy, because change is always inevitable.

    Charles Darwin wrote that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.
    And you seem confident in your opinions….a confidence that in Darwin’s terms speaks volumes about your true “knowledge” of matters.

    “There exists a passion for comprehension, just as there exists a passion for music. That passion is rather common in children but gets lost in most people later on. Without this passion, there would be neither mathematics nor natural science.”
    -Albert Einstein-

    “[Kepler] had to realize clearly that logical-mathematical theoretizing, no matter how lucid, could not guarantee truth by itself; that the most beautiful logical theory means nothing in natural science without comparison with the exactest experience. Without this philosophic attitude, his work would not have been possible.”
    -Albert Einstein-

    Thus, creativity is quite essential, even in the “basics”.

    If I were to ask you what the most basic, quantum, elementary particle of matter were, what would you answer?
    What does your “basic” education lead you to answer?

    This is an answer that continues to change, over time.
    At once it was the atom (yet the atom was only a creative vision of Philosophers in 600 B.C.); then the protons and neutrons; then the quarks.
    And yet that is perhaps likely to change over time as well.

    Can something be made of nothing?
    Everything we know of, every bit of matter, is composed of other things, other smaller bits of matter. Thus nothing we know of is made of nothing.
    So how can quarks be made of nothing, when nothing else we know of is composed of nothing?

    There may perhaps be infinity of existence.
    Clsoing your mind to the possibility closes you off from any further knowledge of the subject.
    It leaves you with a still flat earth.

    This is called “creative” thinking.
    This is how your “basics” were originally conceived….way back when.

    Learn to break free of your anger first, and then your cognitive constraints.
    There’s a much more complex world out there.

  12. Graham says:

    “Creativity” is an excellent way to create something new. It is a terrible way to instruct a newcomer in basics.

    It is also something that is rather rare in any generation, and the persistent fad in pop culture that everyone is or can be creative in some way is false, unless the definition is extended almost infinitely to encompass the most trivial level of creativity in the most trivial and personal enthusiasms of everyday life. Then, maybe, you can get close to full societal coverage.

    The great creatives of history had had the basics of their time in a more systematic manner, before perhaps graduating to a combination of more tutorial style methods [Socratic, various other bits of Greek method we have some idea about, the Oxford tutorial method, and so on] and usually at that stage is one is going to be creative one has shown some sign of it.

    None of this means you can’t build in means to encourage, practice, and reward creativity at every stage, just that to expect it and build a universal pedagogy around it is nuts.

  13. Graham says:


    I was struck by your suggestion that someone actually assumed whole language was easier and for the masses, whereas phonics was for the special kids, his own, who could “handle the challenges”.

    I suspect that might really be how education professionals think of that issue and I cannot begin to fathom how that could ever have been so except by assuming I am, wildly, neuroatypical. I had the privilege of phonics-inclined teachers in 1970s Ontario, at one of the many times it was going officially out of fashion, and have no doubt I benefited from it. Looking at it now from outside I can’t quite grasp who would not- it’s an alphabet designed to encode sounds and mouth positions- how could one really learn to read and speak it by any other method, or at least do so as well and easily at as early a stage? This is what the thing is for.

    Go figure. My mother worked in special needs but she certainly had definite views on general education trends in here time. Not a fan of whole language. Neither were most of her teacher friends of that era, oddly enough. I guess a self-selected friend group of like-mindeds.

    Similarly, I was struck by your comments on the military training method. I could have used a more structured approach to math subjects than I got in high school, even from the best of my teachers [and I did have a couple really good ones]. Even today, an approach based on:

    • What are we learning?
    • How does it follow from what we’ve learned?
    • How does it fit within related stuff?
    • and then step by step

    works best for me. Even better when its in a workplace setting in which I will be expected to grasp quickly and implement readily. Time for homework and reflection limited.

    Odd example: I’ve taken first aid a few times in a 2-day course format. They include what might fairly be considered basics, but it still strikes me as a lot to expect to really come away with a degree of confidence in it.

  14. Thom Stines says:

    The funny thing about “generations” is that every generation thinks theirs was the best, and complain about the changes of the next, often labeling the subsequent as the worst.

    Yet no one considers how the changes of their generation provided the same frustrations for the generations prior.

    Every “best” generation for those of age, is simultaneously the “worst” for those prior.

    For those griping about the “good ole’ days” past, your “good ole’ days” were the worst of days for the previous generations.

    That is one constant.

    Your education system was a complete departure of the previous.

    I wonder how many of you have bothered to consider the changes implemented by people like Frederick Taylor?

    Starting in the 20′s, people in the generation whom had already completed school began griping about the “Scientific Management” style of the new Taylor classroom.

    Many people oriot to the 20′s saw the “Scientific Management” style of teaching as nothing but task management, not true learning.

    Therefore your “basics” were not real education but training, like they do to monkeys, apes and chimps, or like Pavlov’s did to dogs.
    You are but the human equivilents of KOKO,Bubles the Chimp, Clyde, or Bierka, Nalyot, Golovan, etc…..

    Prior to the 1900′s, many thought school a total waste of time. Children were expected to learn at home, for only a few hours, then go to work, being productive.

    Homeschooling was about teaching the “basics”. The shift away from the tradition of homeschooling was a huge source of anger & frustrations, much like you’re displaying today about the changes you’re witnessing.

    After the 20′s, the 40′s brought about much more new teaching, away from the previous “basics”, towards teaching of the new sciences.
    It was thus, again, a vast departure of the old.
    Even during WWII, with so many soldiers leaving for war, and more production needed, the focus shifted towards technical training, necessary to train people to specialize in very specific taks (hence the rise in technical/trade schools). This was another huge departure from the previous.

    History is full of examples of how the subsequent has been a vast change from the previous.
    Open your minds.

    Stop wasting time – first, get a good Therapist, then stop griping & complaining about how things have changed, then do some reading about how much things had changed in your generation from the previous, and the frustations that caused.

    It’s a sad demonstration how teaching of the “basics” hasn’t taught several here how to actually think, just conform to one way of doing things, to simple training, not real knowledge.

    Given that training, you likely won’t understand any of this.

  15. Saunders Shortface says:

    What exactly are the basics?
    What are the three R’s?

    Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic?
    That doesn’t make any sense.

    It’s Writing, nor ‘Riting.
    It’s Arithmetic not ‘Rithmetic.

    Or is it supposed to be four R’s?
    What about the inclusion of Religion in the New England Colonies?

    Some consider the three R’s as read, recite, recognize.

    The educationalist Louis P. Bénézet preferred “to read”, “to reason”, “to recite” as his three R’s.

    So even the basics are not so basic, they are highly subjective to time, person, and place.

    In modern times we are taught first how to count, recite the alphabet and recognize, then write it.
    Afterwards, we expand to applying this knowledge into reading literature, studying history, investigating science, and others.

    Yet before reading there was oral tradition.
    I guess the bible is most completely crap as it largely relied on oral tradition, not on the basics of writing?

    Something else existed before the arithmetic, that we know, that is the formulation of numerals and their humanmade relationship to one another.
    Something else existed before the writing, that we know, that is the formulation of letters and their humanmade relationship to one another.

    The bible itself, considered the unchanging word of god, by many, was constructed by others trying to interpret ancient writings, more resembling drawings.
    Ancient Hebrew more resembled the drawing style of hieroglyphics, our supposed knowledge of those mere assumptions, innuendos and cultural influences.

    Similarly, how is mere reciting synonymous with real education, knowledge?
    If I teach a child to recite that the moon really is made of cheese, does that make it true?
    Is that educating that child?

    Some attribute the three R’s to St. Augustine.

    Have any of you ever read his “Confessions”?

    He once moved to teach in Rome where the education system is more disciplined.
    Thus his stress was on discipline, through certain repetitious acts.

    St Augustine himself was highly trained and influenced by Philosophers, like Plato and Iranian prophet Mani.

    Yet even with a Platonic view, one can see mathematics as highly constrained and limiting, the product of humans, not some innate knowledge. The human concept of mathematics is just an imitation of a form.

    Plato also became seen as a Teacher of rhetoric and the art of persuasion.
    Both creative studies.

    There is nothing natural in 1+1 = 2. Each of those representative numerals are just human inventions, and therefore defined in very specific ways.
    The numeral 2 is only a product of 1+1 because human tradition has defined it as such.
    The numeral 3 could just have easily been come to be defined as the product of 1+1.
    Ordered numerals could have been human created as 1, 3, 2 , 8, 10, 7, and so forth.
    Or any order for that matter.

    Thus, the sum of 1+1 could have been 3 just as easily as it is considered 2.

    Numerals are just human-constructed definitions.

    So, mathematics, as it is commonly known, is just another fleeting structure of training.
    It is therefore merely a human copy, and thus inferior, to the true Platonic form of mathematics.

    Mathematics is therefore, in its very nature, creative.

    No doubt this was the purpose of education expressed to Augustine by his schoolmasters, and even by his parents.
    “Their only concern,” he wrote, “was that I should learn to make a good speech, and how
    to persuade others by my words.”
    As Augustine understood, it was his way to
    “get on in the world,” to “gain the respect of others” and to earn “what passes for wealth in this world”.

    Even St. Augustine condemned the style of teaching he was subject to, writing
    “These elementary lessons [the lessons underlying the lessons he was taught] were more valuable than those which followed,” he wrote, “because the subjects were practical.”
    “I can speak and write,” he tells God “and I want these things to be used to serve you.”

    So even St. Augustine, considered a founder of the three R’s, deviated from the standard in promoting what became the three R’s.

    Thus the contemporary basics were previously not so basic.

    One can view the teachings of Manichæism, a great influencer of St. Augustine, as highly limiting.
    His worldly view was one of “good vs. “Evil”.

    Mani was highly constrained by the limitations of “Dichotomous Thought”, that is, either/or, this or that dichotomous thinking.
    His cosmogony highlighted the spiritual world of light and the material world of darkness…..thus the dichotomy of light & dark.
    Yet even the range of possibilities between “light” and “dark” are perhaps endless.
    What constitutes either?
    Is 1 photon considered “dark”.
    Do no photons exist in “complete darkness”, or do photons exist always, everywhere, just too few to be noticed as light?

    The true knowledge of the universe (and all other things) is not so limited to either/or constraints.
    The span between black & white are perhaps endless. There are an infinite number of shades between mere black & white.

    Thus, the basics are just normative conditioning, and thus highly limiting in the realm of true knowledge.

    One could easily construe the basics as stunting the development of true knowledge and intellectual growth.
    So, what many of you revere as necessary, are in fact quite unenlightening.

    St Augustine stressed the importance of subjective time and mental time travel in human cognition and commented on some cognitive-behavioral areas that benefit from research on time-memory relationships. He then speculates on the concept of the self in past, present and future time.

    That’s pretty creative stuff from a guy regarded as the founder of the “basics”.

    “Perhaps it might be said rightly that there are three times: a time present of things past; a time present of things present; and a time present of things future. For these three do coexist somehow in the soul, for otherwise I could not see them. The time present of things past is memory; the time present of things present is direct experience; the time present of things future is expectation.”
    St. Augustine [1], Book 11, Chapter 20, Heading 26.

    I think you all need to do some research on the history of the three R’s before even attempting to comment on the changes in the educational system.

    Gain some basic knowledge before trying to comment on the basics of knowledge.

    So again, what exactly are the basics?
    What are the three R’s?

    They are but variables highly dependent upon time, place and person.

  16. Harmony Dissonance says:

    I’ve a feeling many of these proponents of “basic education” also identify as “conservative”.

    The funny thing about the term “conservative”, is that if you ask 10 people the definition of “conservative”, you’ll get 10 different answers.

    Even if you get seeming common elements to those answers, like “adherence to traditional values”, once you probe deeper, terms like “tradidional values” become highly convuluted.

    How far back does one have to look to discover “traditional values”?

    Can an American get more traditional than the beliefs of America’s Founders?

    The book, “Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic” outlines how the religions of today’s American “conservatives” deviate greatly from that of America’s most prominent Founders.

    What’s traditional about that?

    How far back does one have to look to discover “basic” educational values?

    What is writing? Just the formation of letters?
    Is fantom bad because it replaced phantom in the English language?
    is forego nullified because it replaced the more basic forgo?

    What is reading?
    I don’t know many people that can actually read Shakespheare.
    So is today’s concept of reading bad?

    Most of you likely use some slang words.
    Those are a deviation of the basics of language.
    How can you justify the changes you’ve adopted but reject others…just based on your prejudices?

    Seems very hypocritical.

  17. William Curtis says:

    St. Augustine Confessions – Book One

    20. But what were the causes for my strong dislike of Greek literature, which I studied from my boyhood? Even to this day I have not fully understood them. For Latin I loved exceedingly — not just the rudiments, but what the grammarians teach. For those beginner’s lessons in reading, writing, and reckoning, I considered no less a burden and pain than Greek. Yet whence came this, unless from the sin and vanity of this life? For I was “but flesh, a wind that passeth away and cometh not again.”[25] Those first lessons were better, assuredly, because they were more certain, and through them I acquired, and still retain, the power of reading what I find written and of writing for myself what I will. In the other subjects, however, I was compelled to learn about the wanderings of a certain Aeneas, oblivious of my own wanderings, and to weep for Dido dead, who slew herself for love. And all this while I bore with dry eyes my own wretched self dying to thee, O God, my life, in the midst of these things.

    21. For what can be more wretched than the wretch who has no pity upon himself, who sheds tears over Dido, dead for the love of Aeneas, but who sheds no tears for his own death in not loving thee, O God, light of my heart, and bread of the inner mouth of my soul, O power that links together my mind with my inmost thoughts? I did not love thee, and thus committed fornication against thee.[26] Those around me, also sinning, thus cried out: “Well done! Well done!” The friendship of this world is fornication against thee; and “Well done! Well done!” is cried until one feels ashamed not to show himself a man in this way. For my own condition I shed no tears, though I wept for Dido, who “sought death at the sword’s point,”[27] while I myself was seeking the lowest rung of thy creation, having forsaken thee; earth sinking back to earth again. And, if I had been forbidden to read these poems, I would have grieved that I was not allowed to read what grieved me. This sort of madness is considered more honorable and more fruitful learning than the beginner’s course in which I learned to read and write.

    22. But now, O my God, cry unto my soul, and let thy truth say to me: “Not so, not so! That first learning was far better.” For, obviously, I would rather forget the wanderings of Aeneas, and all such things, than forget how to write and read. Still, over the entrance of the grammar school there hangs a veil. This is not so much the sign of a covering for a mystery as a curtain for error. Let them exclaim against me — those I no longer fear — while I confess to thee, my God, what my soul desires, and let me find some rest, for in blaming my own evil ways I may come to love thy holy ways. Neither let those cry out against me who buy and sell the baubles of literature. For if I ask them if it is true, as the poet says, that Aeneas once came to Carthage, the unlearned will reply that they do not know and the learned will deny that it is true. But if I ask with what letters the name Aeneas is written, all who have ever learned this will answer correctly, in accordance with the conventional understanding men have agreed upon as to these signs. Again, if I should ask which would cause the greatest inconvenience in our life, if it were forgotten: reading and writing, or these poetical fictions, who does not see what everyone would answer who had not entirely lost his own memory? I erred, then, when as a boy I preferred those vain studies to these more profitable ones, or rather loved the one and hated the other. “One and one are two, two and two are four”: this was then a truly hateful song to me. But the wooden horse full of its armed soldiers, and the holocaust of Troy, and the spectral image of Creusa were all a most delightful — and vain — show![28]

    23. But why, then, did I dislike Greek learning, which was full of such tales? For Homer was skillful in inventing such poetic fictions and is most sweetly wanton; yet when I was a boy, he was most disagreeable to me. I believe that Virgil would have the same effect on Greek boys as Homer did on me if they were forced to learn him. For the tedium of learning a foreign language mingled gall into the sweetness of those Grecian myths. For I did not understand a word of the language, and yet I was driven with threats and cruel punishments to learn it. There was also a time when, as an infant, I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, but merely by being alert to the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own fashioning, which I could not do except by learning words: not from those who taught me but those who talked to me, into whose ears I could pour forth whatever I could fashion. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity is more effective in learning than a discipline based on fear. Yet, by thy ordinance, O God, discipline is given to restrain the excesses of freedom; this ranges from the ferule of the schoolmaster to the trials of the martyr and has the effect of mingling for us a wholesome bitterness, which calls us back to thee from the poisonous pleasures that first drew us from thee.

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