Monday, February 11, 2002
Who can say? it is very hard to conduct controlled experiments in education. It is often claimed to be unethical to not give all children the benefit of the wonders of the radical new findings of the research. The 'teacher effect' is rarely taken into account - almost any wacky scheme can work well in the hands of a dedicated and inspired teacher who believes in it and can carry the students with her by responding to their needs. Most research into 'new methods' is done one-to-one in parallel with existing classroom teaching, not replacing it, and the extra attention in itself can be enough to make a difference. When the same scheme is imposed by fiat to be implemented by teachers who are busy enough already with their existing workload, the real problems then show up. And extra funding can cover up the inefficiencies.