Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Context and Learning

The NY Times for Monday, August 19, has an op-ed piece by E.D. Hirsch, which I find plausible. The central point is that
In the decades before the Great Verbal Decline, a content-rich elementary school experience evolved into a content-light, skills-based, test-centered approach....The Matthew Effect in language can be restated this way: “To those who understand the gist shall be given new word meanings, but to those who do not there shall ensue boredom and frustration.”
For a few years I tried coaching grade-school baseball. I remain vague on the infield fly rule, but did discover why school systems typically cut off passing grades at about 60%; if a child can do something 3/5 or 2/3 of the time, he or she may be engaged and learn to do better; if a child is asked to something he or she can do less often than that, it will seem like punishment.

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