This article makes the same mistake that all the educationists who believe in “skills” over knowledge acquisition make.
All the neat tricks in the world, and all the clever ways of breaking things down by playing with concepts are ALL easier when one has facility in basic math. This facility come through automaticity and mastery. Lauding Guass’ parlor trick goes so far as to ignore the computational advantage he already had over not just his peers, but his teacher. The pretense of today’s ed gurus is that if we teach parlor-tricks, we will create more Gausses. It’s silly.
By skipping algorithms and memorization, and attempting to teach skills before mastery, the education establishment wastes not only money, but lives. This war on “rote memorization” has been successful enough to strip it from schools, while it has been devastating for the students — the poor in particular. The rich go to Sylvan and Kumon to acquire what the schools no longer bother to convey, while the poor go to low wage jobs or jail.
This is all so an entrenched, closed, and protected education industry can shuffle tests and curricula around every 3–5 years to keep adults’ jobs “interesting.” (while keeping an army of expensive administrators employed)
I’m reading a study on how “skills” are suffering across the OECD, where America is lagging, but not the worst off. I find it ironic that as the education gurus in the ed schools have gutted “knowledge acquisition” in exchange for “skills development,” both knowledge and skills have suffered.
We need to do to education what Uber did to Cabs Cartels, and Priceline did to travel agents.
It can’t happen fast enough.