For those of you that get excited hearing Sir Ken Robinson talk about changing education, please temper that excitement with this piece by Willingham. The TED talk, as well as many other popular expositions of educational problems (e.g. "Waiting For Superman") also excite me, but also make me cringe a little. It's exciting to think that more and more people are aware of our educational woes. However, it is very dangerous to give those people the sense that they really understand the problems - which is what Robinson and Guggenheim often do. They appeal to our commonsense understandings of education to show us what we want to see. Buyer PLEASE beware.
I'm a Dan Willingham fan. His writing on education topics from a cognitive science perspective is spot-on and well-informed. A couple of his recent blog posts caught my eye...
Another piece by Willingham discusses the fact that teachers appear to be the most important school factor for student achievement. Willingham suggests that while this is the case, maybe it shouldn't be. This is an interesting proposition, but it is a little akin to saying that maybe doctors shouldn't be the most important factor in the healthcare system. OK, maybe they shouldn't, but we currently don't have a reliable system for educating students beyond the teacher-classroom model.
In any case, if you want to be educated on educational issues, Willingham is essential reading.