27 mars 2012

Drill and kill (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

"Drill and kill." A disparaging description of the pedagogical tool of drill and practice to teach children skills. Like the term "rote memorization," it is a good illustration of the pugnacious tone of some progressive rhetoric. The phrase implies that drill and practice kills the interest and joy children have in learning. At the same time, it implies that needed learnings will automatically be acquired in the ordinary course of schooling by using naturalistic pedagogy like "discovery learning," "thematic learning," and the "project method" (all of which see). The factual bases for these claims do not exist, and are invariably contradicted by the attitudes schools take toward pedagogy when it comes to athletics, a bizarre inconsistency in American schools. Authoritative scholars have felt it necessary to state that:

Development of basic knowledge and skills to the level of automatic and errorless performance will require a great deal of drill and practice. Thus drill and practice activities should not be slighted as "low level." They appear to be just as essential to complex and creative intellectual performance as they are to the performance of a virtuoso violinist. (See page 219.)

This view is strongly supported by cognitive psychologists and neurophysiologists, who have shown that many skills require repeated experience and "distributed practice" to be learned. It is true that such practice ought to be made as interesting, as varied, and as motivated as possible through the art of the teacher. But the assumption that repeated practice can be successfully avoided, or that it can be sufficiently ensured by being embedded in naturalistic themes or projects, has been discredited.



Antipathy to subject-matter content  


"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"
"self-esteem"


 

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  
http://mathematicallycorrect.com/hirsch.htm  
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