Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Scaling Up Evidence-Based Practices for Teachers Is a Profitable but Discredited Paradigm

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Not much to disagree with here - but I have to say, if you think I can write a take-down, try this review for size: "Although Bausmith and Barry are not responsible for their employer’s policies (both are employed by the College Board), it is sometimes hard to distinguish whether they have written an academic article or an infomercial." As for the (so-called) "evidence-based practices": "the use of externally developed, research-based, and standards-aligned videos violates the principles of authentic inquiry that underlie professional learning communities. They also caution that a profit-seeking education industry is increasingly behind the promotion of evidence-based products."

That, surely, should be the context through which media and policy-makers view reports such as this: New math equals trouble, education expert says. This news article reports uncritically on a (so-called) study by Frontier Centre "research fellow" Michael Zwaagstra. Perhaps we should ask Zwaagstra why Canada, which uses largely constructivist methods, and sits atop international rankings in math, would want to emulate the United States, which doesn't, and doesn't (he says "PISA only assesses students on their understanding of 'everyday math'," not algebra, geometry, fractions - a claim easily refuted by looking at PISA questions). Perhaps if CBC had done anything more than run the press release they would have found out that Zwaagstra is no expert at all, but rather, a politically active social studies teacher in Manitoba. Not that we need to attack his credentials - his assertion that "traditional math education methods are superior to the highly ineffective, discovery-based instructional techniques" fails on its own merits.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Jun 12, 2024 12:05 p.m.

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