The Question of Choice

Claims that too much choice isn't good are based on a trivial kind of choosing. Also, beware attempts to hijack the word to legitimize other agendas, such as privatization.

The Failure of Failure

The new Protestant work ethic is all about prescribing grit and self-discipline, claiming that kids have things too easy and need to fail more. The evidence says otherwise.

Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn't Enough

Self-esteem, parental love, and motivation to succeed all share one curious feature: "More" isn't necessarily better.

The Overselling of Ed Tech

Software and digital devices in schools may function as shiny things that distract us from asking the bigger questions.

"Your Hand's Not Raised? Too Bad: I'm Calling on You Anyway"

The real alternative to "cold-calling" students isn't to wait for them to raise hands, but to create a more democratic classroom where one person doesn't decide who talks when.

What 'No Child Left Behind' Left Behind

Some are celebrating the death of "No Child Left Behind." Others are worried about the diminished federal role in the new law. Both groups have it wrong.

All Aboard the LeaderShip

A declaration that we should train students to be "leaders" is either a way of saying they should be in charge of everyone else (which is disturbing) or a way of saying nothing at all (because words apparently can be defined to mean whatever we choose)

To Change What We Do, Consider What We Believe

One critical (but rarely discussed) barrier to making education more progressive has to do with hidden beliefs - about learning, motivation, and even human nature - that need to be brought to the surface. And then there's the matter of whether what we do is aligned with what we say is important...

The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear*

Sit in a school auditorium listening to a list of rules and procedures, on the one hand, and numbing banalities about how "all children can learn," on the other hand -- and dream of a presentation that gets to the heart of what schooling could be like if kids (and learning) really mattered most...

Cheerful to a Fault

Is happiness really what we want most for our kids? Should we question "higher expectations" as a slogan for school reform? Is it time to rethink responses like "Good job!" and "Ooh, you're so close!"?

What's the Real Purpose of Classroom Management?

Is it possible that "managing" the classroom -- that is, controlling the students -- isn't always done in order to facilitate teaching but instead has become (for some educators) the ultimate goal, with the academic content chosen to achieve that goal?

A Different View

The opposite of self-centeredness goes way beyond the Golden Rule. It's the capacity to imagine someone else's point of view. Fortunately, there are practical strategies for helping children to acquire that skill.

Learning As A Sandwich

Having students think about what they're going to learn (ahead of time), and then talk about what they did learn (afterwards), really helps. And one classic version of this technique offers a radical challenge to traditional education...

The Wrong Way to Get People to Do the Right Thing

It may seem a matter of hard-headed realism to emphasize "enlightened self-interest" (rather than altruism) in our efforts to promote individual acts of caring or to justify spending public funds to address infant mortality or spousal abuse. But this approach, just like rewarding children when they do nice things, is counterproductive over the long haul.

The Grass Moment

If we want to raise kids who aren't self-centered, we should stop emphasizing compliance and instead foster a willingness to question authority

Evidence? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Evidence!

It's possible to prove that rewards and punishments aren't effective in the long run. But what if defenses of these practices are rooted more in ideology than psychology?

Four Reasons to Worry About "Personalized Learning"

When kids create their own meaningful projects, the learning is personal. When kids are fed prefabricated skills and constantly tested (via computer), the learning is "personalized." The latter is profitable for corporations, but not so great for our children.

Progressive Labels for Regressive Practices

Traditionalists have appropriated various terms that once were associated with student-centered, constructivist learning, effectively draining these words of meaning

Why the Best Teachers Don't Give Tests

Opposition to standardized tests is growing, which makes sense. But some education practices get a free pass even though they have a lot in common with standardized tests. One example: the tests that teachers make up themselves.

"Helicopter Parenting" Hysteria

Widespread denunciations of helicopter parenting - based mostly on anecdotes - tell us more about the prejudices of the people doing the denouncing than about what's really going on . . . or about what young adults really need

Perfect, It Turns Out, Is What Practice Doesn't Make

Why are we so eager to believe that putting in hours of practice is the key factor in producing excellence? And what should we make of new research that debunks that claim?

Just Another Brick in the Wall

A study says kindergarteners perform better on an academic task if their classroom has bare walls. But what's the task - and is it worth doing?

But What KIND of Universal Pre-K?

Corporate-styled school reformers, who favor prescriptive standards and high-stakes testing, will interpret "high-quality" pre-K as a dreary regimen of direct instruction of facts and skills, particularly for poor children.

A Dozen Essential Guidelines for Educators

12 core principles for educators (and parents) to consider

Recycled Assumptions

Like politicians and corporate officials, journalists who write about education often fail to question basic assumptions that keep schools depressingly traditional. The cover review of a recent issue of the New York Times Book Review is a case in point.

Debunking the Persistent Myth of Lagging U.S. Schools

"We're Number Umpteenth!" — or so the story goes. But the common claim that U.S. schools are in a death spiral compared to those in other countries is based on misinformation, an unfounded faith in standardized testing, and a tendency to treat education as if it were a competitive sport.

Parental Involvement In Education

Teachers want parents to be more involved in their kids' education (but not too involved). But not all types of involvement — or goals for that involvement — are equally desirable.

Homework: An Unnecessary Evil?

A new study offers further reason to doubt that kids benefit from being made to work a "second shift" of academics when they get home from school. No research has ever found any link between homework and achievement in elementary school. Now it appears that homework may not offer a boost even in high school - and certainly not enough to compensate for its disadvantages.

What Do Kids Really Learn from Failure?

There’s reason to doubt the popular claim that kids have too little experience with failure. Or that more such experience would be good for them.

Pages