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ERIC Number: ED498985
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jun
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Throwing out the Baby with the Bath Water. Carnegie Perspectives
Bond, Lloyd
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
The writer reminds readers that the polemics of reform frequently portray the realm of teaching and learning in more extreme terms than is really necessary. Likening calls for educational reform to scientific revolutions sparked by Kuhn, Darwin and Copernicus, that jettison completely the assumptions and premises of the theories they replace, Bond expresses concern that such approaches in education may result in acceptance of innovation based on faulty premise, and that there may be little hard evidence to buttress the "whole language" movement in reading instruction or the 1960's "new math" reform. More recent studies indicate that traditionalists and reformers were both right in their own way, but both were overzealous in their devotion to a particular mode of instruction and in their blanket dismissal of the competing point of view. The drill and practice advocates of early mathematics and phonics instruction appreciated the importance that certain low-level skills must become second nature in order for higher-level performance to emerge. But they often failed to follow through with tasks that engage and challenge. For their part, the new math and whole language advocates failed to fully appreciate the enabling role of automaticity or fully accept that automaticity develops only through continued practice distributed over appropriate intervals. Throwing out the baby with the bath water may well characterize scientific revolutions, but in the world of education and schooling, where new claims must be tempered with the wisdom of practice, progress is rarely made in such spectacular fashion.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A