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U.S. needs concept-based education

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 11:19 a.m. CST

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education, which integrated schools, it should not be forgotten that this also triggered the movement to remove concepts from curriculum and teacher training programs around the country during the late 1950s into the early 1960s, putting us in the situation today of the U.S. being in the bottom one-third of developed countries taking the international PISA exams. The U.S. has been the only country to abandon the concept-based education program that is thousands of years old and a proven winner.

The latest survey by the National Council for Teacher Quality continues to show Iowa’s teacher training programs graded “D” because of their continued failure to train teachers to effectively teach concepts rather than memorize information. A December 2013 report shows other countries only hiring teachers who are excellent at teaching concepts, putting students past the grade level U.S. students (including Iowa) are unable to achieve, but that is not even a possibility in the U.S. because of the changes made sixty years ago.

As China’s economy overtakes ours this year, and Canada’s middle class now ranks as the highest-paid, the U.S. continues to struggle to get its public education back on track, and its middle class shrinks.

Sue Atkinson, PhD


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