Cringe! – Education Rickshaw

Cringe! – Education Rickshaw

My last blog post seems to have been this site’s 200th post. What a journey it’s been.

Long time readers may have noticed that Stephanie (my wife) used to contribute about half of the posts on Lately she’s been too busy being one of the best literacy specialists in the country to be messing around with this Mickey Mouse project. But, trust me, she continues to have a lot of important things to say about literacy and the state of education.

Another thing readers will have noticed is that my opinions about various education topics have changed since the first posts on this site. I used to believe that “true” learning must come naturally from within and that we should avoid at all costs methods that “artificially” impose knowledge from without. Back when I wrote the first posts on this site, I hadn’t the slightest clue about the well-established limitations of working memory when dealing with novel information, nor the transformative power of having knowledge appropriate to the task available in long-term memory. I also underestimated the importance of practice, which resulted in me advocating for unsystematic teaching approaches that lead to infrequent encounters with the material. These days you’ll find me blogging and podcasting about explicit forms of instruction – call them “teacher-centered” if you wish – where an active teacher breaks down whole tasks into smaller segments and drills those smaller segments, and very gradually increases challenge so that all students can succeed in the final performance.

I was raised to believe that the capacity to change one’s mind is a noble trait, but I never anticipated when I started this blog how little the first posts would resemble the newest ones. This extends to the quality of the writing as well. My first posts are absolutely cringe-worthy, not just because the opinions I expressed were uninformed and naïve, but because they reveal, publicly, just how weak my writing skills were coming out of college. I’m still not where I want to be with my writing, but I don’t necessarily need those older posts floating around the internet to remind me of how much I have improved.

So why don’t I delete those older posts? Why don’t I archive or completely rebrand it? Even as I write this I’m not 100 percent sure why I don’t. Perhaps it’s because I admire people who can evolve when confronted with compelling evidence, and I reject the notion that one ought to hold steadfast to one’s beliefs for no other reason than because “this is my camp.” Despite the incoherence and the “cringe” I feel when I read some of my older posts, something’s telling me it would be a shame to get rid of them.

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