When Mike Bloomberg, ex-mayor of New York, said he’d like to fire the lower-scoring half of the city’s teachers and give their students to the better-scoring half, doubling the size of their classes but paying them twice as much, he was affirming his belief in a particular theory of learning.
For a short demonstration of the theory, watch this short, million-plus-viewed clip about a boring teacher from the 1986 film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
The learning theory is called “direct instruction.” Teachers deliver information via talk, text, and technology; motivated learners try to remember it.
For recipes, repair manuals, getting cash from ATMs, assembly guides for IKEA furniture and similar tasks, direct instruction isn’t just efficient, it’s essential.
But as is evident from how little most adults remember and use of what they once studied after learning basic skills, direct instruction is spectacularly inefficient.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde.