I’m a bad teacher. Or so I would be labeled by today’s leading education professionals. My crime? Not my classroom performance and not my students’ test scores. The problem is that I require students to memorize.

My students learn proper grammar by drilling. They memorize vocabulary by writing given words and their definitions multiple times for homework, and then sitting the following day for an oral quiz. They memorize famous quotations by reciting them at the start of class each day.For centuries, these pedagogical techniques were the hallmark of primary and secondary education. But once John Dewey’s educational theories were adopted in public schools beginning in the 1940s, they fell out of vogue, ridiculed and rejected by education professionals across the country as detrimental to learning. In schools of education such techniques are derisively labeled “drill and kill” and “chalk and talk.” Instead, these experts preach “child-centered” learning activities that make the teacher the “facilitator” in education, which is understood as a natural process of self-discovery.This educational philosophy has driven every national educational initiative of the last several decades: New Math, Whole Language, Outcome-based Education and now the Common Core Standards that are being rolled out across the country.

All of the previous initiatives have at least three things in common. First, they didn’t work. The U.S. still lags behind the world in education, even though each program, in its day, was touted as the means to bring our children to the top. Second, they all espoused the same child-centered educational philosophy, which has coincided with American students’ mediocre performance in the classroom. Third, they rejected memorization out of hand.