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Is Educating All Children Possible? (Based on the Status Quo, No.)

Don Berg

July 08, 2015

"Linda Darling-Hammond, in the preface to her 1997 book The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools That Work, wrote: 'Rigid and bureaucratic, [our current education system] was never designed to teach all children effectively, to teach learners in all their varieties, to attend to each child's particular mix of aptitudes and barriers to learning. Educating all children effectively is the mission of schools today, yet great numbers of children still have no reasonable opportunity to acquire the knowledge and abilities that will help them thrive in and contribute to today's society.' As Linda Darling-Hammond points out in the quote above history has rendered judgments about the outcomes of our school system that do not reflect well on our record of success, assuming that the goal is to educate all our future citizens. Historically there have been (and remain) large segments of the United States population that have been educationally neglected despite the mandate to attend school. Since we've never succeeded before, is it even reasonable to consider it possible? I will argue that if we continue to enforce the delivery of instruction in the same way that it has been done for thousands of years, then the answer is no, it is not possible to educate all children. I will further argue that the answer could be yes, if we take seriously an approach to educating children that is grounded in the current scientific understanding of how the satisfaction of human needs causes effective and efficient learning."

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