​An open letter to editors of the New York Times (and most other American periodicals)

Daniel Willingham, Sept 12, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When both Daniel Willingham and Joanne Jacobs storm the barricades over an article in the NY Times, I figure there's something to recommend it. And novelist Nicholson Baker's Fortress of Tedium is a light romp through his own education at the School Without Walls and the contrasting eyeball-drenching monotony of a more traditional school. "In my experience, he writes, "very high-school subject, no matter how worthy and jazzy and thought-­provoking it may have seemed to an earnest Common Corer, is stuffed into the curricular Veg-­O-­Matic, and out comes a nasty packet with grading rubrics on the back." Lovely. Willingham, ever with the scowl, cites some research that no self-respecting researcher would take as conclusive, quotes Baker as having said something he did not say (specifically, "The school that would have been perfect for me, would be perfect for everyone," which is nowhere to be found in the article), and then writes, "He cannot understand why high school must be so stifling and soulless." I can't understand it either. It probably has a lot to do with grouches like Willingham and Jacobs.

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