Readings on Education Philosophy

NYC HOLD: Honest Open Logical Decisions on Mathematics Education Reform

This page contains links to articles and news and opinion pieces that will be of interest to readers of the NYC HOLD web pages. The collection is edited and annotated by Bas Braams and NYC HOLD.


The "Crayola Curriculum", by Mike Schmoker (Ed Week, 011024). The author has toured some 300 schools to observe reading period. "Students were not reading, they weren't writing about what they had read, they weren't learning the alphabet or its corresponding sounds; they weren't learning words or sentences or how to read short texts. They were coloring"... [more]

Romancing the Child, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr (2001). About the chasm between progressive, romantic educational ideas and the classical approach to teaching reading and mathematics... [more]. By the same author... [more]

Progressivism's Hidden Failure, By Louisa C. Spencer (2001). "For the past four years, I have been a volunteer tutor in grades 1-4 of a K-5 public elementary school in New York City's Community School District 2"... [more]

Standardization's Stifling Impact, by Lois Weiner (EdWeek, 010228). NYC's District 2 has developed a "standards-based instructional delivery system" based on constructivist materials and pedagogy that all schools are forced to accept. Ms. Weiner, a District 2 parent, describes the impact... [more]

Nurturing the Life of Mind, by Kathleen Vail (ASBJ, Jan 2001). "The idea that children must be entertained and feel good while they learn has been embraced by many well-meaning educators. In many classrooms, as a result, students are watching movies, working on multimedia presentations, surfing the Internet, putting on plays, and dissecting popular song lyrics. The idea is to motivate students, but the emphasis on enjoyment as a facile substitute for engagement creates a culture in which students are not likely to challenge themselves or stretch their abilities"... [more]

Why Traditional Education Is More Progressive, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr (AE, 1997). "Gramsci saw that it was a serious error to discredit learning methods like phonics and memorization of the multiplication table as `outdated' or `conservative.' That was the nub of the standoff between himself and another prominent educational theorist of the political Left, Paulo Freire. [...] History has proved Gramsci a better prophet than Freire"... [more]

The Computer Delusion, by Todd Oppenheimer (1997). "There is no good evidence that most uses of computers significantly improve teaching and learning, yet school districts are cutting programs - music, art, physical education - that enrich children's lives to make room for this dubious nostrum"... [more]

How should we group to achieve excellence with equity?, by Bonnie Grossen (Jul 1996). "Ability grouping in America has become a loaded word. In response to inequities of the past associated with ability grouping, an emerging national agenda among nearly all reform constituencies is claiming that ability grouping is bad, it is racist, it must be eliminated." Grossen reviews the issue and argues for excellence with equity... [more]

Developmentalism: An Obscure but Pervasive Restriction on Educational Improvement, by J. E. Stone (EPAA, Apr 1996). "[Developmentalism's] notable exponents include Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget; and its most recent expressions include `developmentally appropriate practice' and `constructivism.' In the years during which it gained ascendance, developmentalism served as a basis for rejecting harsh and inhumane teaching methods. Today it impedes efforts to hold schools accountable for student academic achievement"... [more]

Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education, by John R. Anderson, Lynne M. Reder, and Herbert A. Simon (1995?). A critical look at situated learning and constructivism. "Situated learning commonly advocates practices that lead to overly specific learning outcomes while constructivism advocates very inefficient learning and assessment procedures"... [more]

News and Views

When Progressiveness leads to Backwardness, by Amity Schlaes (Hoover Digest, from FT, Oct 23, 2000). About the Summerhill culture in Britain and the United States. "The staggering number of undereducated teenagers graduating from U.S. high schools every year is a national tragedy - and an object lesson in the damage that misguided educational fads can wreak"... [more]

Related Collections

Maintained by NYC HOLD

Math and Science Curriculum
Philosophy of Education
Standards and Assessment
Education Research
Education Policy

Maintained by Others

Illinois Loop, by Kevin Killion. Articles are organized thematically under these headings: Reading; Literature; Math; Science; Computers; Social Studies; Art and Music; Projects vs. Learning; Tests and Assessment; Textbooks; Homework; and several others.

Bastiaan J. Braams
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University