"The education that is the best for the best, is the education that is the best for all." Birbalsignh quotes. She suggests a better balance between newer, progressive ways of teaching and traditional approaches. She has proven her approach to an education focused on facts, skills, and self-discipline is effective even in inner city schools and suggests that the things upper and middle class schools do for students are the things all schools should do for students.
Katharine Birbalsignh, a British educator, shares the same message as leaders like E.D. Hirsch. This video is from 2011. A link to a more recent video interview is posted on my October 5th blog entry.
The idea that students need to be taught a body of knowledge and that critical thinking arises when children have enough information about the world to begin making comparisons and judgements makes sense.
I had a 15 year-old student who was asked in an online Government course to pick a topic (either illegal immigration or same-sex marriage) and write a paper discussing the pros and cons of the issue in light of what the U.S. Constitution said. How could he respond when he didn't have the background knowledge about the Constitution, hadn't read or discussed social issues like immigration and same-sex marriage (except maybe hearing passing comments about them in other people's conversations), and had no experience with a body of knowledge he could evaluate, compare, and make judgements about? The problem wasn't the topics. The problem was his lack of knowledge to even begin to discuss them.
Birbalsignh's point that schools give students "a bag of goodies": knowledge in core subjects like history, math, science, literature, civics, etc., self-discipline (being on time, sitting in a chair) , skills (reading and writing, deconstructing and constructing ideas), and the ability to communicate.
There are many interviews and speeches given by Katharine Birbalsignh on YouTube. She is a great spokesperson for the benefit of teaching content and skills in the classroom.
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