Monday, March 19, 2012

Albert Jay Nock on teaching college students

Albert Jay Nock reflecting on his experience of teaching college students - a useful reminder for students to (a) have some purpose or intention behind the course of studies they choose, and (b) make the most of their educational opportunities:

"What struck me with peculiar force was that only one out of the whole batch was taking work with me because he wanted to learn something about my subject. Most of them were taking it as a filler. They sat where they did because they had to sit somewhere in order to meet some requirement in an intricate system of 'credits,' and the most convenient place for them to sit happened to be in my lecture-room. Some were there for purposes connected with their prospective ways of getting a living. The majority, however, for all I could make out, were there because they were, at the moment, nowhere else; they put me in mind of the cheerful old drinking-song which we used to sing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne: We’re here because We’re here because We’re here because We’re here."

--Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (free e-book available here).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Core Knowledge curriculum "significantly" boosts reading comprehension, study finds

NYT: "Nonfiction [Core Knowledge] Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills in New York City Schools."

I have always been a fan of the Core Knowledge program, which is based on the idea that students should learn content rather than just abstract "skills - this idea might seem like common sense, but traditional content such as the names and ideas of historical figures, narratives of historical events, etc. is often dismissed by education scholars as "trivia" that can just be Googled anyway. E.D. Hirsch Jr., the creator of the Core Knowledge program, argues that the content of the traditional core subject areas serves as the building blocks of literacy.

From the NYT article: "Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of 'balanced literacy'.... The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools. It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead."