I read this fantastic book review this week in the Wall Street Journal (courtesy of a link from Arts & Letters Daily–let’s give credit where credit’s due). Daniel Willingham’s new book, Why Don’t Students Like School?, gives the perspective of a cognitive scientist reviewing the research on the psychology of education. Among his assertions (as reflected in the book review) are:
“When we confront a task that requires us to exert mental effort, it is critical that the task be just difficult enough to hold our interest but not so difficult that we give up in frustration….The challenge, for the teacher, is to design lessons and exercises that will maximize interest and attention and thus make students like school at least a bit more.”
On drilling: “research shows that practice not only makes a skill perfect but also makes it permanent, automatic and transferable to new situations, enabling more complex work that relies on the basics.”
“He advocates teaching old-fashioned content as the best path to improving a student’s reading comprehension and critical thinking.”
And my favorite part, on multiple intelligences: “No one has found consistent evidence supporting a theory describing such a difference. . . . Children are more alike than different in terms of how they think and learn….At some point, no amount of dancing will help you learn more algebra.”
I added a comment to the WSJ article commending this book for deflating the vacuous trends of politically correct schooling today. My professional development classes and meetings drive me bonkers.
This book isn’t in the local library system’s inventory yet; better put in an order.