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Critically Speaking

Sep 4, 2019


In this episode, Therese Markow and Michael Zwaagstra discuss trends in education. Michael Zwaagstra has taught in elementary grades and high school, and has earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in education.  He discusses the differences between "traditional" and "reform" approaches to education.  He is a strong advocate of teaching content, especially in the earlier grades, and feels strongly, based upon his extensive experience, that many aspects of "reform" approaches to education produce students who are less capable in many aspects.  He is a strong advocate of prospective teachers first majoring in an academic subject and feels that many courses offered in colleges of education are weak and do not prepare teachers well. You can read more of his reflections and experiences in his newest book, A Sage on the Stage.


 Key Takeaways:

  • Students need to learn content, especially in the earlier grades, so they can have a store of information with which to engage in more inquiry-based education in high school and college.
  • The evidence does not support the claims that reform-based methods produce better prepared students.


"If we’re not intentional about helping students, starting in Grade 1, acquire a solid knowledge base and build that up sequentially, they’re going to struggle in their reading comprehension." —  Michael Zwaagstra


Connect with Michael Zwaagstra:

Twitter: @ZwaagstraM


Book: A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning


Book Recommendations:

Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms by Diane Ravitch

Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America’s Teachers by Rita Kramer



Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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