(and slight continuation of the theme: what is the ideal class size?)
In the late 1920s, a superintendent in Manchester New Hampshire was concerned with how mathematics was being taught.
In his own words, “For some years I had noted that the effect of the early introduction of arithmetic had been to dull and almost chloroform the child's reasoning facilities.”
So, being superintendent, he devised an experiment. Students in one of his classes learn zero math / arithmetic from first through fifth grade while another class did the typical math progression. The class receiving no math did only one thing different, and that was they were asked questions more frequently. So instead of only listening to a lecture, the teacher would pause and ask them critical thinking problems.
In the beginning of sixth grade they tested the students and those not taught math did really poorly. That year the curriculum was the same for both classes. At the end of the year, the students that had no previous math teaching did as well as or better than the traditional class.
I agree with others that have said it before me, education is not broken it is simply outdated. It does work at selecting for a certain type of student that will do well in a certain job, it is the collateral damage that it does in the process we should recognize. When I first started homeschooling I was really worried about staying up to grade. And staying up to grade can have advantages, but if for whatever reason traditional schooling doesn't make the whole family happy there are alternatives that we should not be afraid of.
- Benezet, L. P. (1935/1936). The teaching of Arithmetic: The Story of an Experiment. Originally published in Journal of the National Education Association in three parts. Vol. 24, #8, pp 241-244; Vol. 24, #9, p 301-303; & Vol. 25, #1, pp 7-8.
- Bloom, B. (1984). "The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring", Educational Researcher, 13:6(4-16).