Thomas Sowell

 Is the 92 percent vote for the guide over the sage based on any hard evidence, any actual results? No. It has remained the prevailing dogma in schools of education during all the years when our test scores stagnated and American children have been repeatedly outperformed in international tests by children from other countries.

 Our children have been particularly outperformed in math, with American children usually ending up at or near the bottom in international math tests. But this has not made a dent in our education establishment's dogmas about the way to teach math.

 What is more important in math, that children "know the right answers to the questions" or that they "struggle with the process" of trying to find the right answers? Among professors of education, 86 percent choose "struggling" over knowing.

 This is all part of a larger vision in which children "discover" their own knowledge rather than have teachers pass on to them the knowledge of what others have already discovered. The idea that children will "discover" knowledge that took scholars and geniuses decades, or even generations, to produce is truly a faith which passeth all understanding.

 What about discipline problems in our schools? Fewer than half of the professors of education considered discipline "absolutely essential" to the educational process. As one professor of education put it, "When you have students engaged and not vessels to receive information, you tend to have fewer discipline problems."

 All the evidence points in the opposite direction. But what is mere evidence compared to education dogmas? We need more "teaching to the test" so that dogmas can be subjected to evidence.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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