December 11, 2011

Are we losing the fight?

An education blogger I read often, Joanne Jacobs, recently posted a link to a traditional teaching program, called DI (Direct Instruction), created by someone from the private sector.

Although I had heard of this, I only knew that it embraces everything I'm against in education: scripted lessons, rules, worksheets and tests, so I had previously dismissed it without further research. The eBook Jacobs linked to on her blog about DI confirmed my suspicions -- that DI is one more in a long line of traditional systems that provide crutches for bad teachers and turn students into mindless automatons.

I decided to share my opinion about DI in the comment section on the post; I was the first. A few days later, I returned to Jacobs' blog to find dozens of comments. I was not surprised by the opinions, most of which were directly opposite of mine. Some outraged fans of Direct Instruction thought I was crazy and defended DI and other oft-used weak practices, like lions fighting for their young.

I was not angered by the comments; after all, these people were only defending what they believe in.

Rather, I began considering how difficult it is going to be to overcome these outdated teaching methods, so we can reform American education. If programs like DI and other scripted, basal-type systems can so easily influence parents and educators, how will modern, more progressive teaching methods, like results-only learning, compete?

I wonder, are we losing the fight with traditional teaching?