Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development | Psychology Today

How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development | Psychology Today:

Now, here’s the point to which I’m leading.  It is generally a waste of time, and often harmful, to teach academic skills to children who have not yet developed the requisite motivational and intellectual foundations.  Children who haven’t acquired a reason to read or a sense of its value will have little motivation to learn the academic skills associated with reading and little understanding of those skills.  Similarly, children who haven’t acquired an understanding of numbers and how they are useful may learn the procedure for, say, addition, but that procedure will have little or no meaning to them.


What a finding!  Benezet showed that five years of tedious (and for some, painful) drill could simply be dropped, and by dropping it the children did better, in sixth grade, than did those who had endured the drill for five previous years.  This is the kind of finding that educators regularly choose to ignore.  If they paid attention to such findings they would do themselves out of their jobs, because the truth is, what Benezet found for math can occur for every subject.  Young people learn amazingly rapidly, and require little help, when they learn what they want to learn, in their own ways, on their own time.

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  2. I've been saying it for more than 20 years...and not just for young learners but ANY learner. Is it not contrary, ineffective for students to try to learn what they see no need to learn, without regard to how they learn best and on someone else's time schedule?...I've been saying it to teachers and principals/administrators in 8 countries. Some teachers but damn few administrators could understand the ideas deeply enough to effect changes in their beliefs let alone practices.

    1. Thanks for this comment. We've been talking a lot about the difficulty of having real conversations about learning because of the pervasive way that schooling practices are institutionalized. I'm trying to post on a lot of this at