Learning myths

by MooshiMooshi

The general public buys into a lot of myths about how people learn, according to this study. Lots of people still buy into the idea of “learning styles” even though research does not support the idea at all. But most horrifyingly,

“More than 40 percent of respondents believed that teachers don’t need to know a subject area such as math or science, as long as they have good instructional skills. In fact, research shows that deep subject matter expertise is a key element in helping teachers excel.”

This may be one of the biggest problems with US education. if the public doesn’t believe that teachers need to know their subject, why should schools bother to hire teachers with expertise? If 90% still believe in learning styles, that is what the schools will give us.Schools just do what their constituents want. As the article says
“Public schools, in particular, are governed by school boards often composed of non-educators. They are subject to pressure from parents, too.”

You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz To Find Out

I certainly see that in our district. That may be largely because it is a small district with highly involved parents – perhaps a larger district with more distracted parents would not feel the pressure as much. The problem is that even in our well educated district, the pressure on the schools is often not good pressure. Many parents, especially parents of elementary school age kids, want less rigor in the schools. Many parents that I speak with buy into the learning styles myth, as well as the right brain left brain myth. I have heard parents complain that a particular teacher is not respecting their little Johnny’s right brain orientation.

On a practical note, I have been aware for a while that research shows that active learning is better, even with simple tasks such as studying for a test. I constantly nag my kids, and my students too, not to simply read and reread the text. They should quiz themselves, work problems, or rephrase the text. Sadly, both my kids and my students resist.

Take the quiz. How did you do? Are you up on research into learning?

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132 thoughts on “Learning myths

  1. My DD#1 does best when she reads the text, then summarizes that section for herself in writing. Her school is big on quizzes on a regular basis to show you what you did/didnot get out of the homework assigned. I know that isn’t quizzing yourself, but I think thinking about what might be on the quiz helps.

    Regarding learning styles, I think repetition in a variety of formats and learning styles can help. For example, a few weekends ago, the sailing instructor was trying to explain how to sail backward. My brain could not grasp his verbal explanation. But, once on the water, when he specifically coached us through the steps, I had that Ah Ha Moment. Then, thinking back to what he said in the classroom, it made much more sense to me. In my DD#2’s case, her “preferred” learning style covered up her mild learning disabilities. Specifically, preferring auditory learning was the way she compensated for her dysgraphia.

  2. I got a 6 out of 7 (tried to think about how I learn). I don’t necessarily want less rigor in elementary school but I honestly believe that kids should have zero to minimal homework in ES. My fourth grader is stuck with 60 to 90 minutes a night and so much of it is just busy work. And I can’t really speak to middle school/ high school hiring but am guessing it’s hard to find people with an expertise in math/science who want to be teachers. My BIL who is a biology professor taught high school for a year or two but he was just biding his time until he could find a professor job.

  3. 5 out of 7. That characterizes me as an “active learner”. I forget which I missed, so clearly not that active. Education research is not my forte; I am more of a simple ‘blocking and tackling’ guy. i.e. do the reading, pay attention to the ‘key points’ the author highlights, read/think about/then actually DO the problems/questions at the end of the section/chapter. Then you’ll do fine.

  4. Agree with Atlanta Mom – Rigor and homework are two entirely different things. I want all kids of rigor, and zero homework.

    And now that I am the resident homeschool expert (because on the rest of the internet I am like the least experienced on the topic) – I am finding that at home we can have rigor with only a few hours a day of work.

    Dweck,Dweck, Goose! Dweck’s research (which I think figured into 2 or 3 of those questions) is being misapplied at schools all over America. The gist (as I have read it) – if you praise a kid for trying hard when they are successful, they are willing to try hard in the future. If you praise a kid for being smart when they are successful, they are unwilling to do something more difficult because it may threaten the idea that they are “smart”. Thus, the “growth mindset”.

    Dweck is being cited in our district as a reason to dismantle gifted and talented programs, honors programs at the high school level and more. Kids don’t need challenge! They just need to try hard. Everyone should be trying hard – so put them all in the same class. It’s ridiculous.

  5. 7 out of 7. I know virtually next to nothing about education research but I can read the author’s thesis and apply it to the quiz. I disagree that there aren’t learning styles. I don’t remember anything if it is said to me. Put the same info on a piece of paper that I can see and I will remember it forever.

  6. More than 40 percent of respondents believed that teachers don’t need to know a subject area such as math or science, as long as they have good instructional skills.

    I believe all the data shows that sticking rigidly to a script is by far the best method of instruction.

  7. The bulk of my kids ES homework was made up of (1) work you didn’t finish the class work, (2) daily reading, (3) math (roughly 15-20 minutes if they understood it), and/or (4) a project that required scissiors, glue and/or paint. Rarely in our house did ES homework take more than 30 minutes, if they did not procrastinate and they understood the material. MS had some homework every day, but the kids had some time in school to at least start it. Again MS homework, except for a few projects (like science fair) took more than an hour a night, unless it was something they were struggling with. Also, in both ES and MS the teachers coordinated so that they staggered bigger projects and infrequently all piled on work at the same time.

    In both cases, most of my kids peers who had LOTS of homework did so because they did not use the time in class well. It was more of a time management issue than a volume of work assigned issue.

    High School – has been a completely different ball game. Homework is at least an hour, but more commonly two hours per night, with almost always some reading (novels, texts, etc). On average, it is 4 classes a day with 30 minutes of homework in each one. However, teachers never coordinate and sometimes that creates late nights especially near the end of grading periods when they realize they aren’t as far along as they should be.

    Teacher quality is an issue both in private and public school. My DDs both talk about the “regular” classes do not teach very much and regardless of the amount of work, prefer to take the Pre-AP, AP or IB option of the course. This year with DD#2 in public HS, it is the first time we have had an issue with teacher quality in a non-regular class. We have had issues often with teachers’ classroom managment or communication (both to parents and students).

  8. There have been metareviews of the research on learning styles, and what seems to be found is that people do have learning styles they prefer, at least when interviewed. But studies that try to show that following those learning styles would lead to better learnng have not turned up much evidence. There seems to be more evidence that matching the mode of presentation to the material makes more difference.
    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/12/no-evidence-to-back-idea-of-learning-styles

  9. I got 6 on 7. I give my kids the same advice as Mooshi but they too don’t take it. It is the way I learned and is probably considered old school.
    My kids seem to have appropriate homework and research topics. Before each test they do homework and quizzes on the topic. Looking at those the teacher will reteach the class the missed concepts or review individually if a student doesn’t appear to get it. Then before a test a practice worksheet comes home which is again reviewed before a test. So, there is ample review and preparation.

  10. This is a paper that gets referenced a lot
    https://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf

    BTW, I was on a review panel once for a major funding organization, looking at CS education proposals. I saw one proposal get completely eliminated because it stated that they were going to tailor instruction according to student learning styles. The educational research people on the panel just shredded it, saying clearly the proposers were not up to date in learning research. This particular agency is very adamant that all funded education related proposals must be grounded in research-backed methods.

  11. I am very big on homework in elementary school for the simple reason that without it, we would have no idea what is going on with our kids. We check the homework, and from that, learn what our kids are struggling with. The 15 minuted parent-teacher conference, and the terse little codes on the report cards, are useless for that purpose.

  12. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher said if they had more than 15 minutes of homework a night she wasn’t doing her job. She was fabulous and my daughter aced the state tests after that year, which is the only measure I have that she learned what she was supposed to learn. Her 3rd grade teacher had them learning about rocks and minerals outside and they learned fun songs to help with memorization. If we are still here when my other kids go through I am absolutely requesting that teacher again.

    This year we have a teacher who is very nice and truly cares about her students but the amount of homework is completely inappropriate for their ages. Every day spelling homework takes 45 minutes because it’s stuff like write an acrostic poem with ten of your spelling words, write a comic with ten of your spelling words, etc. I had a friend go in to talk to her about the amount of homework in the beginning of the year and she told the parent that her child should put her pencil down after an hour and when asked what that meant for her daughter’s grade, the teacher’s solution was she could just finish during recess. I would have been furious. When my kids come home I want them playing outside for a few hours, not sitting inside for 90 minutes doing homework.

  13. Atlanta Mom said “Every day spelling homework takes 45 minutes because it’s stuff like write an acrostic poem with ten of your spelling words, write a comic with ten of your spelling words, etc.”

    The problem here, at least in my mind, is the type of homework. I think “creative projects” like these should be done in class, where there is more support. Good homework should be more about practice, which I think most kids need to really absorb the material and internalize it. I also think good homework should be designed to help parents see what their kids can and can’t do. I think homework also forces kids to be more organized, and alerts parents when there is trouble in that area.

    Having seen the vast gap between elementary school and middle school that already exists, I don’t want to do anything to make the gap bigger. If my kids had gone from a no-homework elementary school to the large amount of homework and organization required in middle school, I think they would have completely sunk. The transition was bad enough as it was.

  14. Atlanta – for spelling, there was one homework assignment every day that was pretty simple – write the spelling word in a sentence, the next day – write the words in abc order and so on. By the end of the week on spelling test day you knew the spelling. The second grade teacher did not require any assignments. As long as the students learned the spelling words they could use any method of study. Some students liked to play those word games, others who read a lot did not require any additional practice.

  15. “Every day spelling homework takes 45 minutes because it’s stuff like write an acrostic poem with ten of your spelling words, write a comic with ten of your spelling words, etc

    My kids used to get this kind of stuff in elementary school. I always wondered how the kids without parent support were supposed to do it.

  16. Atlanta – for spelling, there was one homework assignment every day that was pretty simple – write the spelling word in a sentence, the next day – write the words in abc order and so on.

    You guys are making me so happy that my kids are done with elementary school. By mid second grade, that type of homework drove my oldest to tears. They would take a spelling pre test, which she got every word correct, and then have to do the spelling busywork every night. My second one has some sort of learning disability, she can’t spell to save her life, she doesn’t even misspell the same words consistently. Her dad has the same problem The spelling homework did nothing for her, spell check works for her. By the third, I quit being homework monitor.

  17. Pseudonym – at my kids school, a kid who regularly aced the spelling pretest would probably be a higher level group where they wouldn’t have to do the spelling homework that the regular students did.

  18. “a spelling pre test, which she got every word correct”

    OK, so this would have been me. And back in the olden days, the teacher would then write 100 in the grade book and I would be spelling lesson free until the next unit. Lather, rinse, repeat. (actually I think if you missed 1 you were still excused from the further work). With the understanding I’d quietly read or something while the other kids did their work.

    But now, the schools just cannot deal with that. Everybody has to be busy all the time. hence “and then have to do the spelling busywork every night”. It would drive me batshit if that were the case for any of my kids. I would point out they had already mastered the material, why the ongoing requirement? To which, of course the answer would be, so s/he really knows it.

    Oh, and same for math BITD. But of course now they can’t stand for that either.

  19. I think the homework that reinforces skills for quick recall is good. For instance, multiplication tables. It seems as though the math program my older is doing teaches the kids how to think through things. Which is great. But at some point, the kids need to be able to figure out at 8×3 is 24 instantly. Or they will never be able to do higher level math in a reasonable amount of time. So I assign that kind of homework and don’t make him do the stuff that I deem to be fluff and stupid. I am sure the teacher loves me.

  20. In my daughter’s classroom they had different levels of words but the spelling homework was the same for all. Anyway, tomorrow is the last day of school so I can blissfully forget about it all over the summer. Luckily my daughter likes writing stories and poems because otherwise it would have been a disaster – she required very little oversight (but if this was my son it would have been awful). I just thought the amount of time devoted to spelling homework was crazy. Her homework was like 10 – 15 minutes of math, maybe 20 minutes of social studies or science, 30 to 45 minutes of spelling busy work and 30 minutes of reading Monday through Thursday.

  21. . I would point out they had already mastered the material, why the ongoing requirement? To which, of course the answer would be, so s/he really knows it.

    So you were in the room with me when I had that conversation? One teacher told me that DD didn’t have to take the end of the week test, just do the homework. I remember thinking “WTF, with the final test, all she has to do is write down words she already knows how to spell, not waste hours on busywork”

    I have come to the conclusion that lots of teachers/administrator think of time as an enemy to be destroyed, not a resource to care for.

  22. I am very big on homework in elementary school for the simple reason that without it, we would have no idea what is going on with our kids.

    Doesn’t that presuppose a level of parental involvement that many parents are unable or unwilling to provide?

  23. “I am very big on homework in elementary school for the simple reason that without it, we would have no idea what is going on with our kids. ”

    I really, truly hate this argument, and yet it is the most frequent reason that I have heard from other parents for pushing for homework. Not that the homework itself is helping the kid learn – that it is for the parent to know what is going on. If the problem is communication between the teacher and the parent, do NOT “solve” it by making elementary school kids do needless busy work.

    DS has some homework, but it is not a major burden. It is spelling/vocabulary practice/activities out of the assigned workbook, reading/book reports, and sometimes working on essays/reports that he did not finish in class. It does not really require our support, although we do quiz him on his spelling words and answer questions. We also occasionally have to help him navigate research sources on the internet if he did not complete research in class.

    Maybe it will be an issue if he goes to an homework-intensive MS/HS, but I don’t think the solve to that problem is to make us all miserable by having him do lots of worksheets or even worse – writing acrostic poems out of his spelling words – as a 3rd grader.

  24. I agree some math needs to be memorized to do it quickly and exactly as it is needed to finish more complex math timely on exams. But, that shouldn’t come at the expense of understanding the concept. The issue I saw with our MS was that the kids could to do the problems when they were written as equations. But, when they were words and you had to figure out what math to apply it fell apart. This has been harder for DD#1 than DD#2 to adjust to.

    I do agree with MM that when no homework or graded work (vs. grade only seen on online grade book) comes home it is hard to tell what the child is learning or how well they are mastering it.

    The achievement tests were the main way we could tell how well our school/child was doing until we got to high school. Now end of course exams, PSAT, AP and ACT/SAT are our main measures.

  25. Doesn’t that presuppose a level of parental involvement that many parents are unable or unwilling to provide?

    I was going to say something similar. When you get outside of the totebag bubble, most parents are not involved in their kids’ homework at all. We never were, and our kids seem to be doing just fine in school based on their grades. I think most homework is a waste of time, and there are many studies that have shown homework is of no benefit.

    I think people here often lose sight that totebaggers are the 1% when it comes to involvement with their kids’ schooling.

  26. “at my kids school, a kid who regularly aced the spelling pretest would probably be a higher level group where they wouldn’t have to do the spelling homework that the regular students did.”

    When DS was in that situation, in a program where there was not differentiation within grade levels, they did exactly that – bumped him up to the next grade level for spelling. The next year, they switched to a spelling/vocab curriculum that had more differentiation between levels.

  27. I do agree with MM that when no homework or graded work (vs. grade only seen on online grade book) comes home it is hard to tell what the child is learning or how well they are mastering it.

    These are two different things. I’m all for seeing the kids’ actual work that they are doing. They just don’t need to be doing it at home.

  28. “These are two different things. I’m all for seeing the kids’ actual work that they are doing. They just don’t need to be doing it at home.”

    I totally agree. We look at the work coming home, or we can see it at school if interested. We also communicate informally with the teachers pretty frequently. In 3rd grade, work is not really “graded” anyway outside of quizzes. We have those goofy grades that aren’t really grades, which is fine with me at this point.

  29. Well, my daughter also NEEDS the homework. So it has a lot of usefulness for her – she needs the practice, and we can see what is going on with her. If we had the ability to communicate constantly with her teacher, we wouldn’t need the homework to see what was going on. But she would still need the homework. And teachers don’t have the time to constantly communicate with parents.

    When she was in first grade, she was struggling with reading. It was in a no-homework classroom. So instead of homework, we would get notes home telling us to “help her practice sight words”, with of course no guidance whatsoever. Sorry, I don’t like that. Just give her the frickin’ homework she needs. And after we got her evaluated, and realized she has ADHD, we realized that her issue was focus, and yes, she just needed more practice. Once she became fluent through practice, she became a good reader. I am convinced that she would not have fallen behind if she had been given homework that year. We would have seen the problem earlier, and she would have gotten more practice.

    I am a firm believer that time is one of the most important factors in education. The more time on task, the better. In fact, I read a study a few years ago that found that one of the few practices that seemed to be standard across successful charter schools was extra time. In many cases, a lot of extra time. KIPP does that, for example. They realize that time on task is really important.

  30. I concur with Pseudonym that busywork is annoying. I also really disliked the quiz. The idea that the importance of “intelligence” can be compared with the importance of “metacognition” already implies you aren’t dealing with the demographic (students with below average or well below average aptitude) where good teaching can add the most value.

    Educationally, the ways people vary most measurably are repetition (how many repetitions does it take someone to retain a new concept?) and retention (My math teacher friend spends months helping her basic algebra students with y=mx + b. They take the state test at the end and two weeks later the ability to solve y=mx+b is gone.)

    I think knowing when to apply existing knowledge to new areas or to create a new approach to solve a known problem are the areas of interest educationally and teachers often don’t like students who do those things. My AP computer teacher in high school was one of the few teachers who liked me. I remember when he gave us four problems and told us to use a different sort to solve each one on an exam. Since I have never been big on studying or remembering the names of things, I remembered three sorts and how to do them but couldn’t remember the fourth sort, so I made up a sort of my own for the fourth problem, labeled it a Modified 4th Sort in an attempt at partial credit, and turned in the exam. Shockingly, my teacher read thru my code and gave me 100%, because I had developed a sort of the same efficiency we were supposed to use and he also told me the name of the sort I had developed and that we’d study it soon. I saw more of that teacher behavior in college, but in high school, I was thrilled that a teacher cared enough to read through my non-compliant code and be interested in how I thought, rather than just whether I answered the specified question.

  31. “I have come to the conclusion that lots of teachers/administrator think of time as an enemy to be destroyed, not a resource to care for.”

    Yes. A friend of mine used to say they waste bushels and bushels of our kids’ precious time. Once when I asked an ES teacher about some stupid homework that was taking up too much of my kid’s time the teacher told me not to be concerned because it wasn’t “academic” homework. Oh really, there’s academic and non-academic homework. Okay.

    Sometimes teachers assign homework that requires lots of parental help because parent “involvement” is a good thing and they have to check it off on some form as something they are encouraging.

    These anecdotes are giving me PTSD. *shudder* I’m so glad I’m done with all that. Sometime when my oldest was in early ES I discovered that about half what the school did was wasteful nonsense and so then I tried to learn more about what good education should be. So I’m not surprised I got a 7/7 on that test.

    One of our local administrators tweeted this yesterday with the comment “powerful quote”.

    “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.”

    IME that’s the kind of vague and misguided ideas that guide the teaching at our local schools and many others.

  32. “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.”

    Right, because those things are totally useless now. Eyeroll.

  33. Maybe we’re spoiled but we get constant feedback from teachers at the ES level. I have to sign all quizzes/tests that come home and we get several e-mails a week about what they’re learning, what to study, additional resources available, etc.

    Doesn’t KIPP serve lower income students? I have seen that more time in school has benefit there (guessing because in some cases home may be chaotic).

  34. I have a child that is really struggling with time management. The older he gets, and the more he has to do, the more I realize he seems to have no internal clock by which to judge how much time has passed, or how to pace himself to what he needs to do in the time frame allotted. If y’all have some tips, I’d love them. He does wear a watch, and we do sometimes use the alarm function (e.g., when the alarm goes off, you have to get out of the shower. But then he’ll just get out of the shower, whether he’s actually clean or just wet.)

    Off topic, if you have not read or listened to Mitch Landrieau’s speech about taking down the confederate monuments, please do so. It brought me to tears.

    Atlanta Mom – Is Stone Mountain next? After reading the speech, I feel like it should be.

    (Not the mountain. The confederate monument.)

  35. I suspect that upper income kids already are getting the extra time, by parents who insist their kids do their homework, by extra classes afterschool, by time spent at tutoring centers, etc. When upper income parents get a note home from the teacher saying that their kid needs to spend time on multiplication tables, they do it, or hire a tutor. Whether lower income or upper income, it is all about time on task.

  36. For my older kid I don’t know the specifics but can see the weekly online grades. There is a brief description of the assignment with the grade. Sometimes older kid takes out crumpled graded assignments from back pack but by the time, I have seen online grades.
    I think it was Mooshi who mentioned checking online grades.
    For younger kid, so far no monitoring required. I see the weekly teacher email on topics being covered – usually the questions to kid are silly – “what color shirt do you need for field day” rather than “any problem with geometry”

  37. Lark – maybe with the next governor. I don’t think Deal will touch that.

  38. Lark – Had this problem with DD#2. Tried a bunch of different things. As part of her OT some organization and time management was thrown in. A “skill” she had to practice was – write down your homework, next to each item, estimate the time it will take to do it, set a timer for the first one and then do it. Record how long it actually took. This was for things like 10 math problems, or read a chapter out of the book.

    Another “skill” was order – she would jump in the middle – for a multi-step assignment, she had to list all the steps. Then she had to order them, then do the time estimate, etc.

    I am so glad the OT did this with her as she would have fought me tooth and nail. But, not sure she does this all now, but it did help her get better at estimating the time. Her issue was procrastination, because “it” would take forever and she’d estimate an hour, but she found out it ONLY took 10 minutes – wow!

    Our current agreement is grades are good, we don’t mess in your “way” of getting things done. Grades aren’t good, then you have to show us your “way” and you have to take suggestions and/or go back to OT’s way which was successful.

  39. Lark – my kids know three speeds – slow, medium, fast. So for the shower for example some days they can go slow but other days they have to ramp it up to medium or fast and complete the whole task in the allotted time. It does take trial and error to figure out their own personal speed but once they did they can gauge how fast they need to go.

  40. If you want to know how your kids are doing and you don’t have a river (a flood! a waterfall! a typhoon!) of paper coming home every day, perhaps you can buy a book and do some problems out of it together. I’m not sure why you one would encourage work for every child that must be done at home OR THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES. Our school has a highly variable approach, but kids lose recess and other special privileges for not completing busywork at home. Evidence says it does nothing. So, parents who want to monitor their kids should feel free to do so, but it doesn’t need to come from the teacher.

    Also, if we want to talk about equity (which is not usually a huge tote bag concern), we should expect no parent involvement. This is an issue for non-english language speaking parents and also parents who work outside the home. We have a few public language immersion schools around here and one of the good things I have heard is that there is no expectation of parental involvement since they do not speak the target language.

    Six hours is more than enough time to teach kids what they need to know. If they aren’t learning, it is poor teaching, poor classroom management, or student problem (hungry, learning disordered, mental health problems). None of that is solved by homework.

    I’m kind of rabid on this topic because we had such struggles this year. Child was academically fine, but terrified of teacher so anxiety made homework a nightmare (as above, it was a mental health problem). It was not only a waste of time, it made everything school related even worse.

  41. Six hours is more than enough time to teach kids what they need to know.

    Couldn’t agree more, especially for elementary school kids.

  42. Lark, we love the timer and lists, lots of lists. When the kids were littler, I would set the timer on the oven and when it went off, we had to move to the next activity, get in the car, do a chore, whatever. Since no one had to worry about keeping track of time, it made everything a little easier. I still use it, e.g., ok we have 15 minutes to relax and then we have to do X.

  43. “Six hours is more than enough time to teach kids what they need to know”
    If that is true, then why do so many charter schools use extended days? It seems to work.

  44. I’ve been participating in some interview panels recently to hire a few new teachers in one of our schools for next year. The interviews are held in one room with approx 6-12 people siting around a conference room table. We each ask one or two questions, but I am able to hear all of the answers from all of the candidates. Many of the people applying for teaching jobs are currently working in the city or in charter schools. When they are asked about communication with parents or families, some of their answers are eye opening. Many of them teach in schools where an adult is NEVER home after school. There could be numerous reasons, but most of the time it is because the parent is working or has more than one job. Many of them work in schools where the students do not speak English at home, and Spanish is not always the second language. A few mentioned that they have to send, or their school sends notices in several languages. Also, several of the candidates mentioned that the parent or guardian doesn’t always check or have email. They can’t send assignments or feedback via email if all of the parents don’t have email. they don’t know if the parent checks email or even uses email for school communication.

    My district has tried to go paperless. They hide behind the whole “green” thing, but a primary reason is cost. It is expensive to mail letters home, or to print out hundreds of copies for a backpack. They are able to go paperless because they made an assumption that every family in the district has access to the information via some sort of device. I don’t think that is the case for some families in certain communities.

  45. Charter schools like KIPP aren’t serving Totebag kids. They need more time because so many of the kids are working well below grade level.

  46. Argh, so crappy day here and haven’t had a chance to catch up, but all I can say is don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, “learning styles” is overblown; we all seem to want a cure-all that will provide the magic “fix” for every problem, and then we get disillusioned when our latest grand idea doesn’t solve everything.

    But I can tell you from personal experience that expecting my kid to retain information that is conveyed orally is a recipe for disaster. And after a decade of me being able to tell you that as a “duh,” we got testing that demonstrated that her audio processing ability is at the 8th percentile. So I guess in the common mode of How Things Are Done, I could characterize that as a learning disability that requires an accommodation, and demand that the schools provide a 504 plan that requires the teachers to convey all information to her in writing.

    Or, you know, I could just say what everyone has said forever: that some kids learn better when they hear information, and some kids learn better when they see information, and some kids learn better when they actually get to do something that illustrates the principle.

    Tl;dr: when you attempt to completely discredit the concept of “learning styles,” you take one more step down the line of pathologizing normal variations in kid behavior and ability.

  47. Haven’t done the quiz yet, but I already like where this is going–highlighters don’t help people learn? Hallelujah. I never have understood the point of them, except possibly for descriptions of series imbedded in dense paragraphs, where I can see highlighting the verb in each step could help a person quiz themselves and check answers or get a hint without having to plow through the whole thing. I usually remember where things are positioned on a page, so highlighters don’t help me, even in that way.

    Wonder if there’s a snowflake’s chance in a lake of fire of recognition that people generally don’t understand how learning happens and so students (who don’t understand how learning happens any more than anyone else does) aren’t the best judges of someone’s effectiveness in the classroom.

  48. Also don’t KIPP schools have really high turnover because of teacher burn out?

  49. “Six hours is more than enough time to teach kids what they need to know. If they aren’t learning, it is poor teaching, poor classroom management, or student problem (hungry, learning disordered, mental health problems). None of that is solved by homework.”

    I completely agree for elementary school. Those kids will be better served by sleep, maybe an enrichment activity or two, and unstructured family time/free time after school than by homework. I realize that not all kids are lucky enough to get those things, but that doesn’t mean that homework is the answer. Especially busy work or elaborate assignments that require parent involvement.

    I also agree with WCE (I think) who said that a lot of the differentiation has to do with time to grasp a concept and retention. Repetition in different ways reinforces, but there is a lot of that in class too, especially if you get the concept.

    I think there are plenty of other variables between KIPP type schools and the home schools the kids came from besides a longer day, including the fact that parents have to take action to get the kids into the program in the first place.

  50. “Charter schools like KIPP aren’t serving Totebag kids. They need more time because so many of the kids are working well below grade level.”

    Yes, I agree with this too. They are essentially trying to cover more material than a usual 3rd grade class to get kids up to 3rd grade level.

  51. @AustinMom – those are interesting strategies for time management that I am bookmarking in my head for the future. DS is not great at time management, and eventually he will have to learn.

  52. Her issue was procrastination, because “it” would take forever and she’d estimate an hour, but she found out it ONLY took 10 minutes – wow!

    Our issue with procrastination is the opposite. My son and I both underestimate the amount of time something will take, so start to late to finish on time. Parenting has helped me in some areas of this–I’ve become more realistic about travel time, but still underestimate how long it will take to cook something. He occasionally puts things off and then is surprised (yet again) that it really wasn’t such a big deal, once he did it.

    Homework–ugh! I am so sick of work being assigned to kids. I’d like there to be ample practice available to kids who need it, without the anxiety that comes with things being graded and without requiring everyone to do everything. My kid’s grades would be so much better if he didn’t have to do all the little crap! Ditto with the learning styles argument that Laura gives–have things available in multiple ways, so kids can choose one, a couple, or all of them. Also, I know that my kid learns best by being able to move around, and that he needs to watch a few times before he’s willing to try it himself. The latter is often incorrectly labeled as defiance when he’s actually just worried he’ll mess up. Black kids are given the “defiance” label at a higher rate than white kids.

    Lark, I saw that speech after I saw the response by a Louisiana representative. Truly deplorable. Once I saw the transcript, I could see why it would garner that response, and also how awesome it is that he gave that speech.

    Lauren, my kid’s school has a system where people sign up to get text messages. It works well, and I think most families have access to a cell phone.

  53. On time in schools–no way on earth does my kid need a long school day! He needs time to recoup after every day at school. I’m beginning to think the fevers he gets after ~8 weeks of school are psychosomatic. More school hours would crush him more.

    He has a good sense of time, when he isn’t depressed. It’s been better than mine for a couple years (tho not as long as he’s been able to spell better than me). But when the depression comes, that goes out the window & he has no time management skill (or much executive function of any type)

  54. Home school parents state that they cover everything in 2-3 hours per day for elementary school students. Home school kids consistently are over represented in NMSF, intel science fair, national geo bee, etc. Therefore, school should be cut back to 2 hours per day?

    You and I both know that’s a bad argument. Homeschooled kids (and parents) are not randomly selected from the population at large. Their success may have something to do with time of instruction, enrichment, home environment, individual attention, etc. So, if we easily recognize the selection bias here, we should be able to recognize the selection bias for KIPP schools.

  55. I got 7/7 on the quiz, because I knew the “right” answers even if I didn’t agree with them. The quiz and MM’s interpretation of it imply that there is evidence that learning styles don’t exist, but the article linked to in the quiz doesn’t say that. It says that studies of learning styles have been done poorly, and suggests experimental studies.
    .at present, there is no ad- equate evidence base to justify incorporating learning- styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number. However, given the lack of methodologically sound studies of learning styles, bit would be an error to conclude that all possible versions of learning styles have been tested and found wanting; many have simply not been tested at all.
    I have two bones to pick with their ideas of how to proceed. First, the research methodology they propose starts with people telling them what their learning style is. I think it’s entirely possible that people may not know which way they learn best, so the groups formed for the research, in their proposed study, need to be based on some kind of objective determination of learning style. Second, because people learn best when information is presented more than once, using different methods to re-present the information is not a drain on resources. It is hedging our bet that different people do learn better different ways.

  56. So you can’t do two font styles at once? I tried to put the last bit of that italicizes quote in bold, to give it more emphasis. It says
    it would be an error to conclude that all possible versions of learning styles have been tested and found wanting; many have simply not been tested at all.

  57. Ada, individual attention is probably the most important factor you listed. So then the question is how to get kids to focus hard for a few hours each day. One answer is giving them more time at school, so that they will get the necessary learning time in over a period of time in which their attention flickers on and off. I wish we could have school days half the length they are now, with classes half the size or smaller. Teachers would work the same number of hours, but kids would have more time out of the classroom for unstructured activities, which are important but neglected. Kids who have a chaotic or dangerous homelife could have before or after care with lots of time for outdoor unstructured play, some inside unstructured time, and some time to read or do homework. But that’s not going to happen any time soon.

  58. There are parts of S&M’s unstructured, smaller class idea that appeal to me, but the unstructured before/after school care at our district tends to be pretty rowdy. It’s provided by low paid adults who can pass a background check. Some are diligent, some not so diligent, I suspect.

    Before I can get very interested in learning/teaching styles research, I would want school districts where kids get material that’s neither too hard nor too easy. Until we learn to differentiate instruction, and how that can vary for subjects which are more or less sequential, *how* a child learns is an afterthought. In college, this is handled by letting students test out of low level courses.

    In school and in my job, the question is/ought to be, “How do I get from where I am to where I need/want to be?” In my job, that usually includes these questions.
    1) What problem am I trying to solve?
    2) How long do I have to solve it?
    3) What resources (equipment, people, data) do I have?
    4) What is most important? Cost? Data accuracy? Reliability? Legal documentation that we are in spec?

    KIPP kids have different needs from average kids have different needs from Totebag kids. I was thinking about this a couple weeks ago, when I voted for a technician at the local tire/brake chain for school board. He’ll probably have really helpful insights for vocational education.

  59. The idea that the importance of “intelligence” can be compared with the importance of “metacognition” already implies you aren’t dealing with the demographic (students with below average or well below average aptitude) where good teaching can add the most value.

    That’s not what Carol Dweck’s research has found. Students who have been told they have low aptitude and who believe that will never change do in fact don’t learn as much as those who know that aptitude can be changed. There is a link to her TED talk after the question WCE refers to.

  60. S&M, do you have evidence that Dweck isn’t controlling for aptitude? My understanding is that she is not researching the full -3 sigma to +3 sigma aptitude range but is controlling for that and only AFTER that’s controlled for are her variables significant.

  61. Mooshi, on your comments about your DD needing the extra work from homework. How do you think she would have handled it if she didn’t have totebaggy involved parents? If she had little or no parental involvement with it, do you think she still would have benefited from it, or benefited as much? That is, was it the homework itself that helped her, or was it the attention?

  62. “I disagree that there aren’t learning styles.”

    Yes. An extreme case illustrating this is a blind kid who can hear vs. a deaf kid who can see. They will likely have different learning styles.

  63. “I am finding that at home we can have rigor with only a few hours a day of work.”

    I’ve heard the same thing from other friends who home school. I’ve heard this attributed to the increased focus and low student/teacher ratio.

  64. Our charter school has a full range from totebaggy upper class families to low-income families, very racially and ethnically diverse. Here’s why I think it works so well (this year’s issues aside):

    1. Small size. It’s about 550 students for K-8. Kids don’t fall through the cracks.
    2. Great teachers (although that is changing). Up until this year, our kids had outstanding teacehrs.
    3. Performance grouping (differentiated instruction). Starting in 1st grade, they put the kids in groups based on ability for math and reading/language arts.
    4. Parental involvement. The fact that they sought out an alternative school indicates the parents are at the higher end of involvement.

  65. “In college, this is handled by letting students test out of low level courses.”

    Or by experimentation, e.g., try a course, if it’s too hard, drop it and try an earlier course in the sequence, or an easier course; if it’s too easy, try the later course in the sequence or a harder course.

  66. “My kids used to get this kind of stuff in elementary school. I always wondered how the kids without parent support were supposed to do it.”

    Help from friends?

    During my small kid time, the norm was two-earner families and latchkey kids; most of the kids who weren’t latchkey kids had a grandparent at home.

    I can remember going to friends’ houses, with other friends, and cranking through our homework so we could play without that hanging over us. Those who had trouble with something got help from those who got it; we had a mutual interest in everybody getting all their homework done so we could all play together.

  67. “True or false: Intelligence is fixed at birth.”

    I’m surprised Rhett hasn’t commented on what twin studies suggest about this.

  68. WCE, it’s been nearly ten years since I read Dweck’s book “Mindset” and heard her speak, so I can’t recall all the details, but I do remember being a bit surprised that her studies were much more scientifically rigorous than I expected. There are now many researchers who have done some variation of her experiments. Feel free to survey literature in that field.

  69. CoC, the snippet you linked to is towards the beginning of a paragraph that goes on to say just what you said–environment and education play a role in expression of the genes. It isn’t hard to see that believing that intelligence can’t change could limit people doing the things that bring about that change, and that working to increase intelligence can have an effect, unless you are really invested in believing that the IQ you have will always be higher than what other people are stuck with.

    a large proportion of intelligence is inherited—and therefore based on genetic factors. But intelligence is not a straightforward trait influenced by just a few genes. Rather, there are hundreds of genes that make up a complex web, the vast majority of which research has yet to identify. Environmental factors can influence intelligence too, including education and upbringing.

    At one point the article says that we don’t know specifically how much of intelligence is genetically determined; it later cites a researcher saying that 80% is.

  70. SM – if school is causing a lot of stress, my suggestion would be some combination of online curriculum, college level courses at a college nearby, a homeschooling co-op and tutors.
    Quite a few kids I know are homeschooled and the parents use a combination of methods.
    Instruction can be done in way fewer hours than regular school. Broadly the parents follow the school year so that their kids are somewhat in sync with their activities calendars and peers but really can take their families on vacations anytime they wish.

  71. The issue isn’t whether people have preferences for the way in which they absorb material (aka learning styles) – there are lots of studies that report this. Where evidence is lacking is whether tailoring presentation of material to a student’s preferred learning style improves learning. There just isn’t any. And while one could say “well, we need more studies”, the theory of learning styles has been around for at least 20 years, and an industry, with lots of profits, has sprung up around the idea. You would think that before investing lots of money in teacher training days and classroom materials, educators would first want to see the evidence. That is where the problem is – schools have adopted this idea, spending time and money, without any evidence. And this has gone on for years.

    There does seem to be evidence to support the idea of presenting content in a variety of ways. I also recall reading research that found that people learn better when the presentation style is chosen to best support the content, not the learner. But I can’t easily find the paper now.

    One thing this whole discussion illustrates is the difference between anecdotal evidence (“well, my kid does better this way”) versus actual studies.

    A more recent survey of the research on learning styles, and lack of support
    http://www.cdl.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Theory-and-Research-in-Education-2015-Cuevas.pdf

  72. I went to a seminar on Dweck’s work and was underwhelmed. She selected 16 out of 100 Stanford students for her seminar based on motivation rather than intelligence. To me, that proves when you truncate your range of intelligence to Stanford undergrads, motivation is a key variable. I absolutely agree with that. But given the intelligence range of Stanford undergrads, she’s not exactly turning water into wine, which is what much of the hype about her work in public schools would suggest.

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/february7/dweck-020707.html

  73. (Formerly another poster, from Houston, went by initials) SM, my DS was also at a charter. (He graduated this week). We have been happy with it as far as small class sizes, tight control on discipline issues, very diverse student body, and expectation of success for all students. There was a mix of teacher quality, and my son referred to it as a mediocre school when trying to get out of attending graduation ceremonies. It was the right fit for him at the time he started. By the last two years he would have been better served by more challenge, but didn’t want to push himself, so that mediocre rating is partly of his own doing.

    With one kid with dyslexia and another with dysgraphia, I’ve spent the last 15 years reading up on how people learn, best practice teaching methods, etc. I agree with MM that what most parents want is not what is found to be best practices. I may be the only parent in America who feels this way, but I cheered NCLB because it required schools to teach using methods that had been proven to work. This forced our district to abandon whole language for reading instruction.

  74. “He graduated this week”

    Which leads to the obvious question, limited of course by how much you’re willing to share.

    “I cheered NCLB”

    I might’ve too had they looked at individual progress rather than focus on laggards.

  75. A more articulate cynic than I am: “If growth mindset was so great, you would expect fixed mindset people at Stanford to be as rare as, say, people with less than 100 IQ are at Stanford. Given that you will search in vain for the latter but have no trouble finding a bunch of the former for your study on how great growth mindset is, it sure looks like IQ is useful but growth mindset isn’t.” from
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/04/08/no-clarity-around-growth-mindset-yet/

  76. Becky, LMK if you want someone local to help out while he’s here.

    You do mean UH near where HM and I are, right?

  77. @WCE – exactly. Sure, we could all focus on “growing” more – but fixed mindset works well for a lot of people.

    We had some kids over for math today (recent dropouts from the terrible classroom shared with my snowflake). Parents are electing to skip the last month of school, and that gives us time for mathy play dates. We finished some challenging problems and one kid said, “I got those right because I am so smart.” I added, “and because you worked so hard.” So, I’ll buy the Dweck just enough to cover my bases.

  78. Oohhh… And a quote (edited for clarity) to share about how our school district LURVES Dweck:

    There will no longer be separate Accelerate and General Education classes. There are many reasons behind this modification, not the least of which is our commitment to the concept of growth mindset – the researched-validated principle that we can teach students that their success in school is not stagnantly based on their past but, with grit and perseverance (and a supportive, intentional school environment) all of our students can and will grow. We have looked at testing, classroom performance and discipline data and found that the array of skills, behaviors and challenges in both of these “tracks” are similar. All of our Language Arts teachers are currently teaching (or have taught in the recent past) both sets of students and our curriculum for both Accelerated and General Education courses have already been aligned. Finally, our teachers are spending this school year and this summer to collaboratively develop differentiated lessons, assessments, projects and activities to support and challenge all of our learners.

  79. “I cheered NCLB because it required schools to teach using methods that had been proven to work.”

    That may have occurred at your school, but afaik this was not a common effect of NCLB. Whole language, trimmed around the edges and renamed balanced literacy, continued in wide use. And in its primary goal of raising achievement levels among lowest-performing students NCLB failed miserably.

    Ada, it appears you escaped in the nick of time.

    “Also, if we want to talk about equity (which is not usually a huge tote bag concern), we should expect no parent involvement. “

    I have repeatedly commented how schools “train” parents to become increasingly involved and how this widens the achievement gap. Other types of educational malpractices do the same thing. In the guise of promoting social justice schools have decided that proficiency grouping should be eliminated. Yet surveys show how teachers find differentiating instruction within a heterogeneous classroom is very hard to do and I’ve seen that first hand. Students at both ends of the ability spectrum suffer, so parents who have the resources step in to supplement. Schools argue for smaller classes and more teachers because of mandated heterogeneous grouping and costs soar. (BTW “more” teachers usually means less competent teachers.) Taxpayers resist and funding stalls. It’s a vicious circle fueled by learning myths promoted by schools of education.

  80. It’s a vicious circle fueled by learning myths promoted by schools of education.

    Amen! And since the majority of the general public doesn’t want to have to understand education policy, no one challenges that.

    At my parents last weekend, we got on the subject of my elementary, which they were saying was a very good school and asking my opinion. I told them my memory was of sitting there with nothing to do and not even being allowed to read, year after year. They said the school had them come in during my first month of first grade, told them I could read all the sixth grade material, and they weren’t sure what they were going to do with me. My parents explained that schools then just weren’t set up for that, so in their minds, that was that. We were very big “don’t make waves” people. It still kind of amazes me that it never bothered them.

  81. Ada – our schools are getting rid of the gifted program because the pull out model we had been using violates the IB program. They said something similar – they will train all teachers in gifted education so they can meet their needs in the classroom. It will probably be fine because I think 50% of the kids are in the gifted program anyway.

  82. Kids school stopped emphasizing a separate program. It was one for very high performing kids and gifted kids so only a few students were in it. I think the school got a lot of questions about the program. They still track but they call it reading groups or something like that. Now, the kids who used to be pulled out for the separate program are in the highest reading group.

  83. ” I told them my memory was of sitting there with nothing to do and not even being allowed to read, year after year. ”

    Oh man, that was my experience too! In first grade, the teacher actually was annoyed with my parents because I came in reading. She told them she had no idea what to do with me and that I was messing up her lesson plans. This was in Texas.

  84. Becky: Congrats on your DS! We have DS2’s graduation from middle school today an DS1’s graduation from high school on Sunday.

  85. Haha, both DH and I were readers too. DH’s teacher failed him for the year (in 5th grade) because he was reading books under his desk, so his parents pulled him out, put him in 6th grade instead, then he went back into public school in 7th grade. I remember getting back my 6th grade standardized test that said “reading levels too high to measure”. The teachers had no idea what to do with me either.

    A great component of our moving to the less-pressured school district has been less homework. We are going to get the kids flash cards or math minute stuff in the summer, because they don’t do any memorization of facts (so #1 still doesn’t know 8×4, for example), but I really appreciate #2 not having to do 4 pages of busywork every night for 1st grade homework (like #1 did in the other district).

  86. I absolutely agree that parent don’t always recommend the best teaching methods! Part of that, imo, is pushing kids into gifted programs who don’t belong there. A psychologist here rolled his eyes as he told me that gifted programs are meant to serve 20% of the population, and in certain schools here, over half the class leaves when it’s time for the gifted “pullout”.

    I also think that the style students prefer isn’t necessarily the one they learn best in.

    The crap my kid got for reading under his desk, the way the teacher berated him for it and the tone of voice I heard her use with him, were a big part of taking him out of the public school my mother had drawn out of a hat.

    Stanford is full of people who’ve been told they’re smart their whole lives and are unlikely to want to think about other people being able to get there, because then they’d lose their specialness.

    Becky, you do know how that name is used in some slang, right?

  87. OK, it’s day 2, so I can vent totally off-topic, right? Legal geekiness, feel free to ignore. I totally lost my shit at work yesterday, and the sad thing is the guys deserved it and I don’t feel bad about it. We have been trying to take on some new people and their ongoing work, and I am responsible for clearing the conflicts with their clients. I am going to spare you the details, but suffice it to say that they do things differently than we do, we are more conservative, so there was a lot of back-and-forth about what waivers were even necessary, our language was too strict, etc. And the end result was that we didn’t even get the last waiver request out until late on the Friday before they had to join us (their firm would no longer exist as of Monday). So we won’t have waivers in place Monday, and they need to be working on these matters immediately — now what do we do?

    So I work until midnight that Thursday trying to find a solution to the huge, looming FUBAR that is heading our way. I come up with a fix: we can do a limited-scope engagement that allows them to work on non-adverse issues for the 2-3 weeks we need to get all the waivers, and then when we get the waivers, we can send a new retainer letter for the full matters. I spend hours on the phone with them explaining (they don’t get it, they don’t think it’s necessary, they finally agree because it allows them to start), and then again work until 10 to get a draft letter out to them that they can edit and then use with their clients (this whole freaking week didn’t end before 10 pm). I then spend hours more on the phone with the Powers that Be on Saturday explaining the fix. They debate postponing the deal because of the big difference in approaches, and doubts are expressed about the way these guys do business; I share the concerns but say I think they are trainable, they are just used to doing things a different way. They agree, new guys start as scheduled.

    Next two weeks is back-and-forth over conflicts clearances and the limited scope letter. Nag, nag. Yesterday — almost two weeks after I sent the first draft! — I say, look, we *must* get this letter out, because we are operating at risk — you could be disqualified from your cases (you are now working for us and adverse to our other clients without a waiver in place); and we can piss off our clients for taking on you before clearing waivers (I had literally just spent an hour on the phone the day before with one pissed-off client for this very reason).

    And he basically says no. First, he’s too busy, and “might” be able to get to it mid-week next week. WTF?!?! NO. Then the real story starts coming out: well, it’s not really necessary under his view of the ethics rules (a view that OUR firm specifically rejected as insufficiently protective); he doesn’t want to go back to his clients and have to explain a limited scope representation, because he told them there weren’t going to be any conflicts problems; and if we can’t clear all of the conflicts, he can’t stay here, and so he doesn’t want to bother sending letters before he knows we have all the waivers (umm, dude, except the whole point of these limited-scope letters was to cover us *until* we could get the waivers). So the best-case scenario is that he blew me off because he thought we were being ninnies and he had more important things to do; the worst-case scenario is that he never intended to comply in the first place. With the special plan that I did backflips to come up with SO HE COULD START WORK.

    I lost it. In 25 years, I have never yelled at anyone at work, despite some pretty serious provocation at times. I yelled at him yesterday. Twice. I bust my ass trying to find a way to get you in the door, I go to bat for you with the Deciders to help convince them to move forward with the deal, and your response is to f*** me over and leave the firm exposed to the very risks it is my job to guard us against? Yeah, no. This is not the way things work here. We are a small firm, we need to trust each other, so you do what you say you are going to do, no waffling, no repeating-your-position-100-times-because-if-you-say-it-enough-it-must-be-true, no passive-aggressive bullshit.

    Ugh. Bat-shit crazy-making.

  88. Ugh, that is awful. Sorry! I hope your partners are backing you up!

    I know whenever we bring someone on there is literally MONTHS of conflict work done ahead of time. Gah!

  89. Yay, Laura! Let ’em have it! DH would have been screaming along with you.

  90. @L — oh, yeah. The sad thing is these guys have no idea — I took on the ethics job because no one else wanted it, and I’ve been doing it for a short enough time that people still seem to be grateful. :-) I think this guy is just used to doing things his way, and wearing people down by saying the same thing over and over again (it is *so* like arguing with DD, so I guess I have been well-trained). He’s just used to willing away obstacles through the force of personality, as if by wanting it to be so, he can make it so. It would never even occur to him that there are 6 Deciders here who seriously considered calling off the deal at the last minute precisely because he was Not Listening to me, or that I was his advocate and he really shouldn’t piss me off.

  91. Laura, he deserved it. You not feeling bad about it is between appropriate and awesome.I hope your last paragraph is a near-transcript of what you actually said to him. How was it decided that you’d be in charge of clearing conflicts? Even if he is coming in at your same level, starting a new job means learning how the new place does things, and accepting advice and instruction graciously. And if you are his supervisor, what he did is total insubordination. Can you put him on leave without pay until the conflicts are cleared, or is payday so infrequent that the waivers will come in before his check?

    I think I smell two “because you’re a woman” things here. Whenever I read crap like this, I do ablutions and cross myself, hoping that the feminist I’m raising here wouldn’t pull such maneuvers.

  92. Wow, Laura! Probably long over due. Way to lean in.

    Wonder what he is posting on his version of the Totebag today…. (because in my head, everyone has some online place they are venting…)

  93. I told them my memory was of sitting there with nothing to do and not even being allowed to read, year after year….We were very big “don’t make waves” people. It still kind of amazes me that it never bothered them.

    That describes my elementary experience (and my parents), too. Once I got “grounded from reading” for two weeks for reading with a book inside a textbook. Anyway, it worked out for me, not so much for my brother.

  94. Only time I remember getting in trouble was when I was reading my older sister’s textbook. When she tried to take it to do her homework, I hid it.

  95. @SM: Honestly, the fact that I am younger and female was a consideration, along with the fact that I don’t do the same kind of work, which makes it easy for people to say, oh, you just don’t understand my practice. So when we were first talking through the conflicts stuff and I was not getting through, I got new guy on the phone with my mentor/founder of my office/former Managing Partner/guy who has practicing in the same area for just as long as new guy and who actually invented our ethics program (a/k/a “one of the two smartest people I have met in my life, and very possibly #1”). And the new guy was just as condescending to him as he was to me. :-) I mean, the first 20 minutes of that call was hysterical in the level of male posturing — I wanted to pull a Murphy Brown and just tell him to drop his pants and we’ll get a ruler and decide whose is bigger once and for all. But the real reason it was fun was because my mentor just does not play that game and is in fact completely unaffected/intimidated by all that posturing. So this guy is going off about how long he has done this and how much he knows and how he has taught ethics CLEs and all, and I am laughing my ass off with my phone on mute thinking, “dude, you really don’t know who you’re dealing with, do you?”

    So after that, I am writing it off to “well, at least he’s an equal-opportunity patronizing bastard.”

    And I got this job because the Managing Partner asked me to, and my hours were low that year and I couldn’t say no. Of course, the reason he asked me to is because he knew I had a backbone. So guess I’m earning my pay. :-)

  96. “the fact that I am younger and female was a consideration”
    In assigning you this task? Grr. And picking it up because no one else was doing it is, I’m sorry to say, a classic woman thing to do.

    “well, at least he’s an equal-opportunity patronizing bastard.”
    Yay!

  97. Gifted students may be 20% of the population (it is probably much closer to 5%), but because they are not evenly distributed among schools, it’s not surprising that some schools have more “gifted” kids than others, especially if the schools are using absolute rather than relative measurements.

  98. I think the accepted definition of gifted is 2% – but I agree that they are not even distributed.

  99. We can argue about what the definition of “gifted” is, but I think this just gets back to the fact that there may be good in “tracking” to better serve kids at the top and bottom of the curve. Whatever schools want to call it.

  100. Scarlett and Ada, that’s even further from half! Idk how the school district determines which kids are gifted, but do know that there is a small industry (that this guy was part of) testing kids so they can get into gifted classes. The ability to pay is not evenly distributed, so kids’ educational outlooks are influenced by their parents’ wealth. That isn’t right.

  101. Laura, I have NO IDEA what you are talking about, but it sounds like you got burned by this guy. My sympathies….

  102. I think if 50% or even 20% of a school is testing into a pullout gifted program, the school needs to seriously rethink how it is meeting the needs of these kids. Perhaps they need to revamp the curriculum to serve this rather large fraction of the student population.

  103. @MM – I exactly. I don’t care if they are misusing the term “gifted” but that is something where there is a large population of kids who could be better served with some changes.

  104. “’the fact that I am younger and female was a consideration’
    In assigning you this task? Grr. And picking it up because no one else was doing it is, I’m sorry to say, a classic woman thing to do.”

    Nonononono! I was worried the new guy was being condescending to me because I was younger and female. But apparently not.

    Managing partner didn’t pick me for the job because I am female. He picked me because he thinks I am a badass. :-)

  105. Laura, got it:)

    My concern with such a large “gifted” group is that the needs of those kids who have the curves and quirks usually associated with giftedness aren’t being met. The classes are basically a faster version of the regular classes, with all the busywork.

  106. “I think if 50% or even 20% of a school is testing into a pullout gifted program, the school needs to seriously rethink how it is meeting the needs of these kids. Perhaps they need to revamp the curriculum to serve this rather large fraction of the student population.”

    When that large a %age of kids are getting pulled out, it sounds like the schools are trying to get around an edict to group classes heterogeneously.

    “It’s a vicious circle fueled by learning myths promoted by schools of education.”

    I’m curious of whether research exists on the efficacy of heterogeneous grouping, and what that research says.

    It does seem like a crabs in the bucket approach to education.

  107. To get into the “challenge program” in our district you have to either test 96% or higher on an IQ test or get over the 90th % on three other tests – the Iowa tests, a creativity test and some other test I’m not remembering. I think they probably will end up raising the 90% to something higher. The tests are administered in school and any kid can take them with parental permission once per year. You can’t just say your kid is gifted, the kid has to pass the three tests above 90% or have a 96th percentile IQ or higher. I suspect most get in with the three tests (mine certainly did) and those are just high performing kids. I have no idea of the percentage that gets in due solely to the IQ tests but would be interesting to look at.

  108. Finn, the research says heterogeneous grouping is not efficacious. Efficacy is not the point. The point is “closing the gap”.

  109. Our program requires 98%ile on an ability test (because we don’t like to say IQ) AND 95% on reading and math achievement testing. So, high IQ kids who have low achievement (2e, or poor home environment, or non-english speaking parents) can’t qualify for the program.

  110. Ada, that’s awful. The kids who can get into the classes are then those most likely to have “enrichment” elsewhere.

  111. “The point is “closing the gap”.”

    In which case the corollary to NCLB (No Child Gets Ahead) makes sense.

    Of course, this all suggests reexamination of the point. Strive for mediocrity?

  112. If, in one’s hierarchy of virtues, social equity is the supreme virtue, then a focus on closing the gap makes sense.

  113. Lauren, thanks, I found it interesting too, although I haven’t heard of that happening with any of DS’ classmates. The post-May 1 changes I’ve heard about have been kids getting admitted off wait lists.

    I have heard about kids getting such letters in April, which IMO is an appropriate time for that.

  114. I haven’t head about offers after May 1, but I have two neighbor friends with kids that received more money in late Match/April when their kids were thinking about where to attend. This happened with my friend that has a daughter going to Rochester next year. They gave her $18K per year in merit aid, and then offered another $7k that had a name associated with it. They never contacted the school, and she always intended to enroll, but she hadn’t sent in all of the relevant paper work and deposit yet. My friend is excited because it is a lot of money for them to save $25K per year. Another neighbor chose a program at Union because they offered him a lot of money to attend. He wanted to go to Michigan, but I think he liked Union when he went for a visit, and it was a similar amount of merit aid. About 20K per year. Another example where additional merit aid came a little later in April.

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