Are Progressive Educators Losing the Fight?

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An old version of this post appeared on the Results Only Learning blog years ago. I wondered if progressive educators were losing their battle against traditional education. Today, we rehash this important education issue.

Are We Losing the Fight (2011)

An education blogger I read often, Joanne Jacobs, recently posted a link to a traditional teaching program, called DI (Direct Instruction), created by someone from the private sector.

Although I had heard of this, I only knew that it embraces everything I’m against in education: scripted lessons, rules, worksheets and tests, so I had previously dismissed it without further research. The eBook Jacobs linked to on her blog about DI confirmed my suspicions — that DI is one more in a long line of traditional systems that provide crutches for bad teachers and turn students into mindless automatons.

I decided to share my opinion about DI in the comment section on the post; I was the first. A few days later, I returned to Jacobs’ blog to find dozens of comments. I was not surprised by the opinions, most of which were directly opposite of mine. Some outraged fans of Direct Instruction thought I was crazy and defended DI and other oft-used weak practices, like lions fighting for their young.

I was not angered by the comments; after all, these people were only defending what they believe in.

Rather, I began considering how difficult it is going to be to overcome these outdated teaching methods, so we can reform American education. If programs like DI and other scripted, basal-type systems can so easily influence parents and educators, how will modern, more progressive teaching methods, like results-only learning, compete?

I wonder, are progressive educators losing the fight with traditionalists?

Rehashing the progressive educators’ battle today

So, how far has education really come? We continue to battle the Common Core, and traditionalist still defend their archaic practices. While the Common Core may be losing traction, high stakes testing and traditional grades still dominate our classrooms.

Progressive educators trumpet student-centered learning, and the no-grades classroom movement seems to be gaining steam. But global resistance remains strong.

Is the resistence futile? Or are progressive educators still losing the fight?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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