I ran into an interesting article by Alan Singer, a Hofstra University social studies educator.
The article is openly contemptuous of what he terms the "self-proclaimed educational ‘reform’ movement" which in his opinion "is busy packaging Common Core standards with high-stakes assessment, scripted curriculum, packaged test prep, the de-professionalism of teachers and the privatization of school support services".
Professor Singer believes that the process, he so deplores, is driven in part by a recent book by Amanda Ripley titled The Smartest Kids in The World: And How They Got That Way, kids which she apparently discovered in Finland, South Korea and Poland.
These kids did particularly well on international exams when compared to American kids.
The professor hurries to point out that the figures on the exams are misleading.
Massachusetts’s fourth and eighth graders, for example, were second in the world in recent science tests and sixth in mathematics.
Several other states—including this writer’s own state of Minnesota—were top scorers in the eighth grade science exam.
And even prior to what Professor Singer refers to as "the high-states [high-stakes?] testing craze" the United States preformed well above the international average.
Massachusetts, in both his opinion and the New York Times’, does so well in science and math because of its emphasis on "intensive hands-on instruction".
He gives the example of a fifth grade experiment at Donald E Ross Elementary School in Braintree, Ma. where the fifth graders learned about fulcrums with the help of rulers cleverly set up like seesaws, balancing weights at both ends.
This class and others like it, he says, "had no computer generated instruction; no test prep booklets; no scripted lectures or videos..." Instead they depended on "good, old-fashioned, science experiments".
"And Massachusetts", he says, "manages to get these high grades on international tests without private school vouchers, without eliminating teacher tenure and without charter schools".
"Wouldn’t it be great", he wonders, "if Massachusetts was a country?".
We here at the RobotsLAB agree with Professor Singer and the New York Times on the importance of hands-on learning.
We believe our RobotsLAB Box and its accompanying robots is the perfect tool toward this end.
Nothing displays the practical importance of math and science like a robot!
We would not like to go on record, however, as being in favor of Massachusetts’s secession.