Snake OilSugar is sweet and fun to eat. But too much of it will kill you, just as having sugar in the gas tank will damage your car.

We see the same contradiction in education.  All new ideas are sold to the public as tasty treats and nutritious as well. In fact, they invariably turn out to be poisonous.

Our Education Establishment seems to operate “labs” every bit as destructive as meth labs. Let’s call these laboratories “sugar labs.” That’s where our top-level educators concoct the too-sweet gimmicks that make public schools so unproductive.

Just in time for a new school year, here are 10 items your children should not have in their diet if you want them to end up educated:

1) Whole Word says you have to memorize English words as graphic designs, which just about guarantees illiteracy. (Systematic phonics is the only way.)

2) Reform Math says that mastery is bad, spiraling from topic to topic is a great idea, memorizing anything is a waste of time, the easy ways to  solve math problems should be forbidden, and calculators are all you need. This litany of lame ideas is the reason our country is so weak at math. (Saxon Math is all you need.)

3) Constructivism says teachers should be facilitators. They shouldn’t teach. So it’s no surprise that students don’t learn. (We need expert teachers—Savvy Sages on Stages—to bring out the best in all children.)

 4) Self-esteem says that only one thing matters: kids feel good about themselves. So the schools ditch everything that’s difficult; teachers spend all day telling kids how great they are, even though they can’t read and can’t do arithmetic. (Genuine self-esteem comes from solving tough problems and overcoming obstacles.)

 5) Cooperative Learning says that children should work and think only as members of a group. So there goes independent thinking and individual initiative. Public schools seem satisfied with creating bees in a hive. (Individuality is vital for human happiness and self-actualization; citizens who can think for themselves are essential for the success of a society.)

 6) No Memorization is a policy which virtually forbids children from learning anything in a permanent sense. No multiplication, no dates, no names, no nothing. This guarantees the children will skate endlessly on the surface, never having enough real information to discuss anything intelligently. (Children should be encouraged to memorize all the facts and knowledge they can comfortably handle. They’ll be more efficient at any job they do.)

 7) Relevance says that kids should study only what’s part of their own immediate world. There goes every foreign country. There goes the glory of Greece and the grandeur of Rome. There goes just about every kind of history, music, art and science they may not be part of the kid’s daily experience. (Relevance is almost too stupid to discuss but it has merrily sabotaged curricula for decades.

 8) Multiculturalism says the kids should not bother with their own provincial world; instead they should study only foreign lands. So there goes the geography, history, and culture of one’s own city and country. (Multiculturalism is almost too stupid to discuss but it has merrily sabotaged curricula for decades.)

 9) No Cursive and No Precision is not a policy so much as a tendency throughout our public schools. Progressive educators seem always to favor looseness, fuzziness, approximations, and wrong answers.

 10) No Recess is a policy that became increasingly popular over the last three decades. Superintendent said that children could not become problem solvers if they were hanging upside on a jungle gym. (This policy is completely stupid, but no more than all the others. Exercise is probably the most important thing that children can do during the school day.)

 In1983 the “Nation at Risk report concluded that the public schools were so bad they must have been designed by a hostile foreign power. Charlotte Iserbyt summed up the last century by calling it “the deliberate dumbing down of America.” But how was this sabotage accomplished? Simple—the ten theories and methods described above. 

Bruce PriceBruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on his site