Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Libertarians To The Editor: WILLIAM LARSEN: Education has gotten too far from basics

K-12 education is critically important to our economy and freedom. Over the past five decades I have been exposed to many educational experiments. In my five decades I have researched these experiments and found that they were implemented without ever being validated. In short, did they improve education?

Many question why test scores are low, yet I believe these good people are missing the basics of learning and how the brain processes and retains information.

We all learn differently. I learn best by hearing, writing and seeing a presentation and least by reading. I find that reading from a hard copy is far superior to a monitor. I also learn best when I must explain myself instead of multiple choice. In fact, the item I grew up disliking the most, writing, turns out to be the most efficient means of learning for me.  I also learned a great deal when I looked up a word in a dictionary, seeing many other words spelled correctly before I found the one I was looking for. I learned that an outline reduced mistakes, organized my thoughts, reduced time I spent actually writing and improved my retention of the material.

The purpose of K-12 is what? To me it is to teach me the basics so that by grade 12 I know how to teach myself. However, today’s K-12 presentation of material does not utilize repetition nor use multiple senses at the same time.

I have always questioned school systems’ use of calculators and computers in K-12. The material we learned before these great tools was no less than that taught today. I took the same high math without the high-tech tools.  I grew up without using a calculator and computer, yet when I used one for the first time in 1984,  it took very little time to learn the software, I had a true appreciation for its power.

Before one can run, one must learn to stand, crawl and walk. Skipping the basics is not really learning.

WILLIAM LARSEN

Fort Wayne

EDITORS NOTE: Published in Fort Wayne Journal Gazette 20150203.

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