Taking Education Back to the Old School

Posted by Nikhil Swaminathan

This week, on The New York Times Opinionator blog, Stanley Fish, a professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, waxed nostalgic about his classical high school education, which—when you think about reading and math proficiency and standardized testing—sounds like its from another era. He says it was unparalleled, even by his undergraduate and graduate experiences at Ivy League schools.

He notes that three recent books argue that education reform needs to look at older models of well-rounded education rather than focusing on data, testing, and technology. Ones that teach multiple foreign languages, emphasize great thinkers of the past, and don't skimp on the humanities, such as literature and history. 

Fish sums up the idea as:

In short, get knowledgeable and well-trained teachers, equip them with a carefully calibrated curriculum and a syllabus filled with challenging texts and materials, and put them in a room with students who are told where they are going and how they are going to get there.

Just reading the comprehensiveness of the curriculum Fish went through sounds intense and, frankly, a set of classes that would not only challenge students, but, in its design, expect a lot of them. But is it the proper way to educate everyone?

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