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    #248744 - 04/24/21 07:23 AM Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4714
    This new thread is inspired by these recent threads:
    1) Virginia eliminating accelerated math before 11th
    2) Math Test Doesn't Add Up

    Rather than capping the growth of pupils at the top, might more be done to bring up the performance of struggling students?

    Book:
    The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America's broken education system--and how to fix it, Natalie Wexler (2019)
    - Use the "Look Inside" feature
    - Read the reviews
    Click to reveal..
    My take-away: focus on knowledge rather than compartmentalized skills

    Upcoming webinar:
    https://nataliewexler.com/
    Thursday, April 29, 2021, at 3 p.m. EDT

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    #248746 - 04/24/21 09:32 AM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    Kai Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/17/09
    Posts: 640
    I found E.D. Hirsch's Why Knowledge Matters to be a more rigorous (and interesting) discussion of this same issue.

    I really hope that what Wexler and Hirsch are advocating gets taken to heart by the educational establishment.

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    #248747 - 04/24/21 10:39 AM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: Kai]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4714
    Originally Posted By: Kai
    ... E.D. Hirsch's Why Knowledge Matters ...
    - https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED568821
    - https://www.amazon.com/Why-Knowledge-Matters-Rescuing-Educational/dp/1612509525 (2016)

    Use the "Look Inside" feature and read the reviews.
    I especially like the clarity of the review by "Mike the Geology Teacher" Nov 10, 2016.
    Originally Posted By: Brief Excerpt from book review
    ... The current orthodoxy states that the acquisition of knowledge is virtually unimportant in a child’s education. What’s important is that a child learns “critical thinking” or “problem solving” or “reading comprehension skills.” So instead of teaching my students the scientific knowledge I’ve acquired over years of study, research and teaching...I’m supposed to teach them an amorphous and impossible to measure set of skills. Actually, I’m not even supposed to teach. I’m supposed to facilitate learning by teaching them skills that are “universal” and “not specific” to science. Seriously…I’m not supposed to teach.

    But here’s what Professor Hirsh makes absolutely clear. There is no such thing as “reading comprehension skills” or “critical thinking skills” or non-domain specific “problem solving skills." If I gave a passage from an advanced mechanical engineering textbook to an average liberal arts major and told them to read and comprehend it, they would fail. Why? Because they lack the background knowledge needed to make sense of the material in the engineering text. But if I first taught them the needed vocabulary and scientific principles, they then could make sense of it. Because American schools don’t focus on knowledge, we aren’t giving our students the tools they need to comprehend much of what they read. Many are just like that liberal arts student trying to make sense of an engineering text....
    (emphasis added)

    More about Hirsch here (wikipedia).

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    #248748 - 04/24/21 11:07 AM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2496
    Originally Posted By: Hirsch exerpt
    Because American schools don’t focus on knowledge, we aren’t giving our students the tools they need to comprehend much of what they read. Many are just like that liberal arts student trying to make sense of an engineering text....


    Is this just a pedagogical distinction? I buy that pedagogy is problematic. However, my sense is it cuts to a deeper challenge of certain factions of the population dually:

    1/ Seeking credentials, and following a prescribed path to secure them without asking, "Is this the best method?" or "Is this information relevant or of high quality?" There's a lack of epistemic curiosity.

    2/ Forwarding theories that are unsubstantiated by evidence, or based on pseudo-evidence tethered to a flimsy empirical foundation, and disseminating them to an intellectually undiscriminating public. This fuels a growing culture of anti-intellectualism, and polarization around matters that have objective answers (or answers within an acceptable level of statistical confidence). Not actually teaching substantive material might be a weaselly way of avoiding a political hot potato.

    I don't think the US is alone in this challenge. A healthy garden can't grow on a rocky, polluted hillside.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #248750 - 04/24/21 12:03 PM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1680
    When we were in that other thread and there was a statement that liberal arts provides critical thinking and problem solving, I didn't respond but I thought it was incorrect.

    I think the best problem solving educational path is engineering. Because the whole thing is about problem solving. Like in that movie Apollo 13. They put a bunch of engineers in a room with all the stuff on the capsule available and said "make an oxygenator". They didn't get a bunch of liberal arts degree people. But liberal arts people think they are problem solvers. I think the best problem solvers are poor people who have had to survive and navigate and become successful. They have had to strategize. Anyone privileged is the worst problem solver in my opinion. No need to really figure out how to overcome obstacles. I think that is why they now have those college essay questions. What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome. So they can weed out the entitled.
    In the olden days, it was the custom to become knowledgeable. To know the arts, literature, philosophy. Bill Gates reads about 20 books a week. About everything. He did not take liberal arts. He was totally focused on comp sci, yet he is one of the most knowledgeable people and problem solvers around. I think I know as much about art, literature not philosophy than most people with a liberal arts degree. It isn't hard to learn this kind of stuff outside of school. Go to museums around the world, see the art. See plays (not musicals, but real plays) Read all 7000 pages of Proust. Go to lectures before symphony performances.
    I am good with people having different opinions on this. Let's see how it works out for our kids. That will show us the trends then.

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    #248751 - 04/24/21 01:22 PM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2496
    Originally Posted By: Wren
    I think the best problem solvers are poor people who have had to survive and navigate and become successful. They have had to strategize.


    There's a lot of truth to this. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. My best ideas have come after I've had my butt handed to me by life.

    Originally Posted By: Wren
    Anyone privileged is the worst problem solver in my opinion. No need to really figure out how to overcome obstacles. I think that is why they now have those college essay questions. What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome. So they can weed out the entitled.


    This gave me a good laugh, and I mean that in the best way possible. Thanks for that, Wren. smile
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #248807 - 05/04/21 10:06 AM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    thx1138 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/30/12
    Posts: 100
    That's how it will go, college admissions will get rid of SAT tests and grades, and just ask “What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome.” (So they can weed out the entitled). (and the talented).

    Start planning ahead now how your kid can have a victim narrative… so they can major in Grievance Studies… That will really advance humanity…

    USA self-destructing its human resources, shifting into reverse gear, while China, Russia, laugh…


    Edited by thx1138 (05/04/21 11:29 AM)

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    #248808 - 05/04/21 11:31 AM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4714
    The current teaching of discrete, isolated skills rather than imparting a broad base of knowledge, seems to align with the manner of disadvantage some families were observed to pass on to their children, back in the 1960s, by Hart and Risley.

    By contrast, it was found that engaging children, from infancy on, in conversation... rather than just giving them behavior commands... created lasting benefits in neurological development, vocabulary acquisition (general knowledge), and relationships.

    As with much research, there has been pushback & "debunking" however other similar studies reinforce the findings, results, and conclusions of Hart & Risley.
    Links -
    - https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1995-98021-000
    - http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-w...-we-use-science
    - Hart&Risley research in the 1960s - Dr. Todd Risley on the value of talking to even the youngest kids
    - Hart&Risley research in the 1960s - NPR Jan 10, 2011
    - Hart&Risley research in the 1960s - high level summary
    - Hart&Risley research in the 1960s - back-and-forth conversation with children rather than just directives to children
    - Comparison: Hart-Risley (lasting impact) VS HeadStartprogram (short-term effect)

    Depriving children of a broad base of knowledge, in favor of teaching discrete, isolated skills, also brings to mind the trend toward "the deliberate dumbing down of America," which was documented by Charlotte Iserbyt, a former employee of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Back to the topic of this thread... might more be done to bring up the performance of struggling students?... encouraging parents and caregivers to engage children, from infancy on, in conversation... rather than just giving them behavior commands... has been observed to create lasting benefits in neurological development, vocabulary acquisition (general knowledge), and relationships.

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    #249073 - 08/04/21 07:26 PM Re: Natalie Wexler, author: The Knowledge Gap [Re: indigo]
    Team3 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/12/21
    Posts: 9
    Loc: New York
    To increase performance, we might do well to make things harder. Or more suitable to engagement. Or both.

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