One Small Example…

…of the stupidity of usual and customary modern (mis)”education” practices:

“Drill and kill.”

That’s a phrase used to deprecate dilling facts such as multiplication tables until they become second nature. Combine that with stupidly practiced positive reinforcement of “tender widdle egos” and we have such idiocies as congratulating ignorant little brats for “5×6=33” or ignorant and nearly illiterate college students who are super-confident of their intellectual prowess.

No, the proper view of drilling facts is:

“Drill to skill.”

Indeed, facts must be drilled, practiced, exercised regularly for quite some time before they can be useful and contribute to useful skills–or even by themselves be skills. Intellectual pursuits are non different in this regard than physical pursuits. Most pubschools have some sort of athletic teams. Are the kids just set out on the field and told to “just have fun” or do they have a coach who drills them in fundamentals and has them practices skill sets and play patterns?

The latter, of course. Apparently, pubschools view athletic endeavors as more important than intellectual ones, because in athletic endeavors, pubschools actually coach kids to attempt to be successful, having them practice and drill the skills they need until they are skills.

Or take an even simpler task. Has anyone ever seen any person just pick up a hammer for the very first time and drive a 10-penny nail in two (or maybe three) blows, perfectly straight with no problems? No, because it takes (usually) some minimal instruction (I can’t count the number of inexperienced adults I’ve seen simply holding a hammer incorrectly!) and lots and lots of practice.

Ditto for calculus or stats calculations or grammatically-written sentences or playing piano: (proper) practice yields skills that mere knowledge cannot. Of course, that’s one reason many “educators” deride such things: actually supervising such practice to assure what’s being learned is useful is often hard work (and I use the term derisively; teachers teach while “educators” are more often puffed-up, toxic drones who need an extra two syllables to assure themselves of their importance).

4 Replies to “One Small Example…”

  1. I love it…. I’ll take it to one level higher. Drill exercises for the acquired knowledge is as necessary as riding a bike. And, like riding a bike where in your muscles and balance sense learn how to keep the bike upright insures that even if you haven’t ridden one in 20 years, recovery of the skills are almost instantaneous. I had to memorize the Gettysburg address in the fall of the 1959-60 school year. I still know most of it some 50+ years later.

    Drill exercises need to be re-taught and awards for “self esteem and effort” need to be decreased. My daughter is, I’m delighted to say, a TEACHER and not an educator.

    Great post David.

  2. Haven’t you heard of youth soccer’s “we don’t keep score” mentality? At least in Washington State they don’t want winners and losers because the losers would lose self-esteem.

    1. Perri, *sigh*, heard about it. The “keep ’em stupid and unmotivated and unskilled” mentality of “educators” is making inroads even into sports.

      I’d like to see that attitude taken into professional sports, as much as I find such things to be silliness cubed already. At least it’d be the end of ESPN…

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