Mar 17, 2014 by


by Dave Mundy


Many of those who defend today’s “student-centered” education methodology like to claim that “research” proves that students learn best when they’re allowed to “explore learning” on their own. We could point out that much of that “research” is done by the very people responsible for changing the methodology of public education from a traditional knowledge-based system to one based on values and feelings — in other words, they’re creating research to support the sale of their “new” educational materials — but what has always struck me as odd is how the touchy-feely teacher-as-facilitator approach never made it into certain areas of education.


Like athletics.

I wonder why?


Imagine you’re the coach of the local high-school football team. It’s Friday night and you’re getting ready to send the troops out onto the field.


“Danny, I know you’ve never kicked off before; even though Jake was an All-State kicker last year and you haven’t been at a single practice this fall, I think it’s important that you get the chance to experience kicking off. Let’s go get ’em, Fawns!”


Danny’s kickoff is returned for a touchdown. You send Chuckie out to field the other team’s kickoff and he fumbles it, but your team miraculously recovers. You gather the offense on the sideline.


“Okay, I know that Blake is the quarterback, but Poindexter is a member of an oppressed minority and he deserves the same chance as Blake. Go get ’em!”


“But coach, what play should we run?”


“Don’t worry, something will come to you.”


The offense takes the field and Poindexter, who’s never taken a snap in his life because he’s a 5-foot-3, 280-pound guard, gets sacked for a 15-yard loss. You call time out and huddle your offense.


“Okay guys, I know we have some ground to make up. Let me ask you, how do you feel about losing 15 yards on the first play in front of everyone in town? Do I need to contact the school district lawyer to seek compensatory yardage?”


“Coach, we suck.”


“That’s not a proper attitude, Jerry — unless of course that is your preference, in which case you should feel good about sucking. Okay, this time we’re going to run a pass play!”


“Which play, coach?”


“You’ll figure it out, trust your feelings.”


The likelihood of such a coach retaining his job through the first quarter — especially in Texas — is pretty slim. He’s facilitating, not teaching. Those kids aren’t learning to play football.


How do you teach football? You design plays. You show those designs to your position coaches, and all of you get on the same page about what the play is designed to do. You then put that play into a playbook and give it to the players. The players study the playbook until they have memorized it.


Then you put them on the practice field by position and, from quarterback to end to guard to running back, teach each player his role in the play. You eventually bring all the positions together to run the play in practice — and you run it, over and over, until the players do it right.


Coaching football is traditional Type I educational methodology: memorization of facts, skills and drills, repetition until players KNOW what they’re supposed to do and can do it unconsciously.


The same principles are used in Saxon Math and any other number of other programs which have arisen over the years in challenge to the education establishment’s focus on affective methodology.


Before the public education system in the United States began implementing affective Type II methodology in the late 1960s, America’s public education system led the world. With outcomes-based education in place, we’re now in the 30s.


Maybe it’s time to study a new playbook.

Published by Jimmy Kilpatrick

by Education News
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  1. Roc

    “Football may be the best taught subject in American high schools because it may be the only subject that we haven’t tried to make easy.”
    —Dorothy Farnan
    English Dept. Chair – Earamus Hall H.S., Brooklyn, New York

  2. Your relation of Facilitator to Coach is not accurate. However, it can be used to relate. A coach positions players based upon the best physical matches for the benefit of the team. The best QB, RB, etc., plays those position because they are the best with the required physical attributes that will allow them to help the team succeed. The players will also in turn be able to help out the next best so that starter and replacement will benefit the team in the long run. Each player is able to work and advance their skill set in an area they excel at. It also includes coaching players at the level they are at, the 3rd and 4th string will develop their skill set also. A good coach will also make sure the RB knows what the Lineman and QB are doing.
    This is what a Facilitator will be able to do in the classroom. Each student will have the ability to work at their level and their pace. So a student who excels in Math will be able to be taught at their level, while a student who struggles will be taught at theirs. However, the same student who excels in Math may struggle in Science- and the Facilitator will be able to meet him at that level. A Facilitator would not ask a struggling Science student to work at an excelled rate, just as a coach would never have Danny kickoff if he has never done so.
    The role of a facilitator is to meet the student where they are and teach them to advance their skills from there. Just as a coach would evaluate a player and coach their skill set to advance from there. A coach does NOT have the team sit around and listen to the RB drills and then have each player go through the same RB drills. So why should a teacher have a class sit through the same lesson and all do the same drills?
    Lastly, your statement about the US leading the world prior to 1960s implementation of Type II Methodology is wrong. We have NEVER lead the world in K-12 Education. As a matter of fact, the PISA world-wide testing was only developed in 1997 and first conducted in 2000. Since its inception, the US has been consistent in ranking around 20-30 for Math, Science and Reading.

    • Andrew Swallows

      Let me see. Original author cited the 60’s as when the decline in education began in the U.S. The testing used to indicate the decline was developed in 1997 and first used in 2000. In the first use of the testing the U.S. was low and has been consistently low since. That puts 20-30 years between the claimed implementation of Type II Methodology and the first test. This seems enough time to assign responsibility for scores to the Methodology, at least logically. Maybe enough time for the author to have enjoyed the Methodology from the beginning.

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