How Do Public Schools Dumb Down Their Students??

by Bruce Deitrick Price - Date: 2010-05-31 - Word Count: 543 Share This!

All statistics tell the same story: we're living in a period of educational decline. Despite ever larger expenditures, American students know less and less.

"This is a huge and unexpected mystery," according to Bruce Price, founder of "One-room schools, where a solitary teacher might have to deal with 30 students of different ages and backgrounds, succeeded in teaching far more. Why are our public schools so inept? It's almost as if there's a secret lab somewhere which invents educational straitjackets--that is, things done to the curriculum or students so nobody learns very much."

Price has been writing about education for 25 years. He sums up his findings this way: "If our elite educators say they have a new and better way to teach X, you can bet that test scores in X will go down. Isn't that what happened in reading? Isn't that what happened in arithmetic? Isn't that what happened in virtually every subject and in every grade?"

Price admits that for many years he was baffled by the endless failure he saw in every direction. Was all this just random bad luck and incompetence? "I was looking," Price says, "for an underlying pattern, a generalization that could explain many different situations."


As Price reports in a new article titled "49: How Do We Learn? How Should We Teach? Why Do Experts Get Everything Wrong?" he finally discovered a formula that reveals a lot. It is simply this: our Education Establishment invariably teaches each course in the way that will get the worst results.

Most people would react: what in the world are you saying?! In fact, Price insists, it's easy to explain.

Whether it's Latin or dancing the limbo, humans need to learn all subjects in a sequential way. We crawl, walk, run, and then ski. We start at A and B, then work our way to H and L, and so on until we are experts.

The weird genius of American education is to pervert this sequence, to start at M, for example, which guarantees confusion. Or to start at A but then fix matters so that nobody advances much beyond B. Either way, you don't have any progress. Months later, students remain as ignorant, or illiterate, or incompetent as they were on the first day.

"Of course," Price insists, "this is counter-intuitive and counterproductive. The proper way is to start with the simplest, easiest elements. Students must master these elements, and then build on them. Our top educators have to know all this. But they continually rearrange the educational furniture so that nobody ever feels at home."

Price's new article deals with the main school subjects and shows that all are improperly taught. By checking this article, parents can defend their kids. And teachers can outwit the wrong approaches incorporated into many curricula.

"The US has a great tradition of guerilla teaching," Price notes. "We need that spirit now. Individual teachers can work around the bizarre techniques coming down from the professors on high. There's a lot of collectivist ideology up there. Let's just focus on making sure kids learn as much as each one can handle. That's the philosophy espoused at"

"49: How Do We Learn? How Should We Teach? Why Do The Experts Get Everything Wrong? can be found on; or simply Google the title.

Bruce Deitrick Price is the founder of, a high-level education and intellectual site. One focus is reading; see "42: Reading Resources." Another focus is education reform; see "38: Saving Public Schools." Price is an author, artist and poet. His fifth book is "THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened to American Education."n
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