I ended that article with a suggestion of what the magic curriculum would almost certainly mean for students and teachers:
Originally posted on Stately McDaniel Manor:
In my April 24 education article titled Education: Research and Magic, I spoke of two current trends in education: (1) over-reliance on often shoddy “research” and (2) the pursuit of the “magic curriculum.” I ended that article with a suggestion of what the magic curriculum would almost certainly mean for students and teachers:
In such classes, teachers would cease being teachers and instead merely ensure that on Tuesday, February 2, at 10:03 AM, like every student in their state, their students were reading page 937, paragraph 4, sentence 2 of the approved text, to be followed at 10:12:25 by supplementary video B27C-12. Little or no explanation would be required, so perfect and research-based would the material be. At the end of the year—for the testing industry and its political supporters are moving the states toward “end-of-course” testing—students would take tests based entirely, word-for-word on the material on which they had been relentlessly, mind-numbingly drilled all year, and the results would likely be reasonably good. If that drilling was all you did all year, wouldn’t you expect to do well on the final test? The test scores will, of course, be touted as evidence of the brilliance and relevance of the curriculum.
Because fewer teachers will be required, and any materials not a part of the pre-packaged, officially approved curriculum could not be used, and because ‘teacher’ qualifications and experience could be greatly reduced, this magic curriculum would save money. And if almost all teachers could be eliminated, if instruction could be delivered almost entirely by computer with only a few adult minders present to keep kids glued to their computer monitors and to keep them from killing each other out of boredom and intellectual regression, even more money could be saved. One of the essential elements to this brave, new future must be software that can not only teach in a semi-interactive fashion, but that can grade student’s work, including their writing.
What’s my problem with research? I have none, providing it’s falsifiable, properly done, understood and used. All too often, educational “researchers” begin with an unshakeable belief and adapt their “research” to conform to that belief. This is nothing new. We’ve seen precisely this in the field of climate research, particularly when Climategate revealed that the three primary climate research centers had, for years, been making things up, or when the data didn’t conform to their beliefs and preferred narrative, hiding it. Their work wasn’t falsifiable because they “lost” data sets, or even made them up. Even when researchers aren’t being overtly dishonest, researcher expectations and biases—when research is not designed and rigorously peer-reviewed to eliminate them–can easily affect results. Few would accuse academic research of suffering from an excess of rigorous peer-review or adherence to the scientific method.