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In our conversation, we talk about so many important topics:
We are joined by Dr. Susan Engel, professor of developmental psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Dr. Engel has authored a variety of publications and books, including The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness (not money) Would Transform Our Schools and A School of Our Own: The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education, among many more - including her latest book, The Children You Teach: Using a Developmental Framework in the Classroom. Furthermore, Dr. Engel co-founded the Hayground School, a non-profit school focused on experiential learning and the teachings of John Dewey.
Chris McNutt: Hello, and welcome to the Human Restoration Project. My name is Chris, and thanks for listening in today. First off, a special thank you to a few of our patrons that make our podcast possible, two of which are Michael Hyde and Jenny Lucas. Thank you so much for your support. You can learn more about the grassroots progressive education movement of the Human Restoration Project on our website at humanrestorationproject.org, or follow us on Twitter at humerezpro. On our website, you'll find a plethora of materials related to progressive education, including a large list of free resources, a ton of research backed evidence, and in general, thoughts, ideas, and other things to share. We are joined by Dr. Susan Engel, Professor of Developmental Psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Dr. Engel has authored a variety of publications and books, including The End of the Rainbow, How Educating for Happiness, Not Money, Would Transform Our Schools, and A School of Our Own, The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education. Furthermore, Dr. Engel co-founded the Hayground School, which is a nonprofit focused on experiential learning and the teachings of John Dewey. Just first off, I would like to know how you got involved in education, what led you into the field of developmental psychology, and how you just got to all these different progressive ideas.
Susan Engel: Sure. Okay. Well, I'll actually tell you a funny story that's in my most recently published book, which is a book for teachers called The Children You Teach. And I tell the story I'm about to tell in that book, which is the first time that I worked with young children, I was 12 years old. And I was hired by a young woman in her early 20s who was running a summer camp. And she hired me to be her assistant because I lived nearby and I was very interested. I had a little sister, so I guess I thought I'd be good with little kids. And you may know what this experience is like, because you're a teacher. The minute I started that job, I knew I had a feel for kids. It's not something that people talk about in the world of education. But I don't know why not, because doctors talk about having good hands and an athlete might talk about having a good pace or a good spring in their legs or whatever, good eye coordination. And there's no reason why teachers wouldn't also have certain characteristics that just give them a feel for the work. So even as a 12-year-old, I just knew I loved being around kids and I was good with them and they brought out the best in me. And I couldn't have told you then, and I'm not sure I could tell you now what that was, but it was something. It was a feel for kids. That young woman didn't run the program the next year and so I decided to run a program myself. So I was about 13 years old. I was very young when I started thinking about kids and what they were like and what you should do to give them the most interesting experiences and how to help them interact in a group. But I just sort of did it by sort of intuition. So fast forward, I got to college and I still liked working with kids and I still did it, but I thought that it had nothing to do with my academic studies. I wanted to study literature and I wanted to study philosophy. In fact, I had an advisor at college who tried to get me to take a course in developmental psychology. But at that age, I was 17 when I started college, I didn't know what developmental psychology was. When he said psychology, I thought he meant therapy or I don't know what I thought, but I thought I'm not interested in that. I'm not doing that. I work with kids, but that's not what I'm here to study at college. Then finally, he was a very good advisor, so he convinced me to take this course in developmental psychology. And I instantly fell in love. I just knew that I had found my thing. I loved reading the theories about why children changed in the way they did, how they learned to talk, whether we should think of the mind as a malleable entity or one that was born with all its propensities and abilities. I loved the research. I thought it was magic the way that researchers made sense of everyday behaviors and the things that children said and did. I loved coming up with hypotheses and testing them. So I had found the second love. If children were my first love, psychology was my second love. It took me a lot longer to realize that it was more unusual than I had expected to put those two things together. And what I mean by that is I went on teaching to make money when I was a college student. By then, I couldn't stop doing developmental psychology. So I went to graduate school to become a developmental psychologist. But I also went on teaching because, again, I needed to make money and I liked working with kids. And I began to realize that those two groups of people weren't talking to each other, that teachers, for all their skills and knowledge and expertise, they didn't really have a grasp of how children develop, of how their minds change or don't change, how their behaviors are influenced by other people or not influenced and so forth and so on. And it was something that would strengthen their work, not weaken it. If they only could learn about that, it would make them even more perceptive, more skilled, have more resources. It would certainly be a help to them when they were convincing parents of doing unusual things or doing things that parents were nervous about. And by the same token, I noticed that researchers didn't seem to really know about real kids. The kids they imagined were the kids in the lab who were nothing like kids on the playground or in the kitchen or in school. So I began this interest of bringing those two things together. And then eventually I became a professor at Williams College and I began to get students who didn't only want to study developmental psychology, they wanted to teach. And that gave me this golden opportunity to put those two things together. So that's how I became a psychologist very interested in education. And I'll just say by way of ending that answer, I began to realize that some of my most dearly held intuitions or ideas about education were based on good research. They made sense. And that the way to convince people they were good ideas was not to keep shouting it or saying it again and again, but to show that the research backed up what I was saying about how children learn and what made them thrive and what were the best things to do for them in a school setting.
CM: Yeah, that's something that always shocked me. After I started looking into progressive ideas, there's always been this mentality whenever I spoke to teachers about this kind of stuff that it was kind of like the quote unquote hippie style of learning. That's all that 1960s, that's all kooky stuff. But then you look at what people actually publish on this. And I mean, there's literally thousands of studies that back up everything from changing how homework looks and not grading to doing all sorts of kinds of things. It's shocking how much we know yet how little we actually practice, how little those two go together, at least in most schools, I would argue. Kind of along the exact same lines to hone in on what you focus on in The End of the Rainbow, you point a lot of criticism at how schools use terminology that focuses on the industrial benefits of education. If we were to quote something, students of the 21st century will need to be innovators to work in tomorrow's industries. Could you go further into the problem with our overwhelming focus on job readiness or next step education?
SE: Sure. So as I talk about in that book, I think that was the focus on sort of job readiness that sort of came about during the Industrial Revolution, I think was sort of an accident. I think it was unintentional. So for time immemorial, the only people who got a formal education were the privileged. And it was considered a luxury. School meant not at work. And by extension, sort of the gifts of literacy, of thinking abstractly, of pursuing philosophy, and then later science. Those were the privileges of the wealthy. And deep down, intentionally or not, the uneducated were deprived of that kind of intellectual, by and large, were deprived of that kind of intellectual life. When more and more children needed to be cared for out of the home because their parents were working out of the home, they developed this need for somewhere for kids to be while parents were working. And that sort of began the slow drift towards school for all, which has enormous benefits, obviously. But as that sort of took hold, the purpose of education shifted. It's a crazy paradox, and I'm no historian, but it seemed like as we began to think of education or formal education, school, as a place for everybody, we also began to think, well, if it's for everybody, it better be a very different thing than it's been. If it's for everybody, how could it be the pursuit of enlightenment or higher order thinking? It better just be job training. That's at least a piece, I think, of how schooling became focused on this job readiness. And then that went hand in hand with the idea of thinking about all these kids that were going to need to be able to work. And they were going to need to be able to work at whatever, you know, in factories or stores or at trades. And the idea of using school to get them ready for those things sort of just fell into place. The problem with it, I mean, there's so many problems with that model. And it's not one that people examine very carefully. I mean, even now I work at one of the most selective colleges in the country. And I think by many measures, one of the best colleges in the country. I certainly love it and adore it. We get incredibly bright students and they're very motivated and they're very engaged. But they talk all the time about their college experience in terms of how it will help them in the workplace, even though the best thing we can offer them is not training in some trade or some particular narrow career path, but rather an education that enables them to think in complex ways about complex matters, which is the world they're moving into. So that idea of schooling or education as being a pre-professional training ground has sort of permeated all levels of education. And it doesn't work, number one. You don't really prepare people for work by trying to train them in these narrow ways. And meanwhile, you spend all that time sort of unsuccessfully preparing them for particular, I don't know what, professions, and you lose the opportunity to help them all become enlightened in the truest sense of that word, able to read complex material, to think about complex arguments, to consider various approaches to a problem, like a mathematical approach or a literary approach to think like a social scientist or to think like a natural scientist. Those are all ways of thinking that any citizen should be able to access at some level, if not at the professional level. And that's what a good education should give you. And that if you can't do everything, so if you were going to do that, you would have to let go of this kind of false sense that you're preparing people for jobs. And that doesn't even begin to get at what I think is the more fundamental question, which is, is school a place where kids develop a liking for thinking and debating issues and deliberating over complex questions? And if you can't give them that liking for sort of higher order thinking, then you've lost whatever game you were playing.
CM: Kind of on the same lines, this is going to sound like a very obvious question, but I think it's worth mentioning. Why is it important that we focus on student wellbeing and curiosity and creativity rather than preparing them for the next step? So to preface that, I think about many educators who I had growing up, or still maybe work with me, who say things like, well, they have to get used to it, life isn't easy, or they're going to appreciate it later, or this is teaching them rigor, or a lot of times it's like code words for very authoritarian, do as I say, and learn to live with it, because that's how the world works.
CM: Right. Well, first of all, I think many people would now acknowledge that doing what you're told is a dangerous way for a society to function. If you have a whole society of people who are just doing what they're told, you're on the path to a terrible society, a society without invention, a society without democracy, a society without liberty, and ultimately a society without the ability to move on in any good way. So that would be terrible if we had a whole society filled with people who all they had been trained was to do what they were told. What most people I think would agree if they stopped and thought about it is that what you want are people who can think carefully about the way they live their life, make good choices, think about who they want governing society, and then also come up with good ideas and be innovative in the way that they solve problems, whether they're the immediate problems of the job they do or bigger problems of how their community can function or how their families should live or what they should do if they face a medical crisis. Those involve making informed decisions, and that's what you can learn to do in school. So to cycle back to your question, you said why should we care about things like curiosity and creativity and well-being in education instead of preparing for life, for people who argue against that and say, well, what we need is to prepare these kids for life. Well, the first answer to that is if you were to really educate kids to feel curious and then pursue their curiosity and get interested in problems and then figure out how to solve those problems, you would be preparing them for life. I mean, if you did that well, you'd be preparing every single kid for a productive, thoughtful, civically engaged life. So we know as developmental psychologists that being curious is the reason why kids learn so much when they're sort of birth to three. That's why they're learning machines. And anybody who's been around a toddler knows that you can't keep them from exploring the world around them. So the real question for educators is how do we build on that? And what happens in many schools in this eagerness to train children in these narrow skills or to make them obedient is that we do the opposite. We turn that curiosity off, which is like turning off the engine to learning.
CM: Something that you wrote about in your book that I thought was really interesting was I believe that you gave either surveys out or you had teachers collect feedback from people and basically seeing what engagement was and found that essentially engagement didn't necessarily actually mean like students were asking questions about what they want to learn about or things of that nature. It was more, oh, they sat up straight and they looked. Yeah, I pay attention. Yeah. Compliant behavior.
SE: You do what you're told and you pay attention in many places, grownups, if you, the child does that, if you see a child focused on their work in front of them and not fidgeting and not looking around and not wriggling, you often a teacher or an educator will think, oh yeah, they're engaged. And probably what they really mean or what a psychologist would see is focus, which is important. It's not unimportant. And compliance, being able to follow rules. Again, not unimportant, but not the most important thing because actually if you flip this around and help a child get really engaged, which is to be absorbed by something, to lose awareness of what's going on around you because you're so focused on the task, to have an internal sense or drive to learn more or achieve more with the project, whatever it is, then oftentimes children are focused. They do pay attention and they're able to acknowledge or abide by rules. So engagement comes first, not after. And if you, and like I said, developmental psychologists know this. I mean, watch any three-year-old who's wriggling around and looking around and shouting out or doing what three-year-olds do, and then watch them get really absorbed in something they care about. Building something with blocks or rolling a ball or watching something fascinating that's going on outside the car window, they become totally absorbed and totally engaged. And that's what you want. The thing that educators often forget is that what the school should do is build on natural development, not try to redirect it or thwart it. And that's what I'm arguing for in the book. So to go back to the question of curiosity or creativity and why those are important early on or wellbeing, it's because fostering those is the best foundation for the kinds of learning that are important later on. I mean, learning about mathematics or learning how to read a complex text or learning how to write software for a computer. It's not that those things are unimportant. It's just a question of what's the best way to get people able to do those things.
CM: Yeah. And it's interesting too, that it's kind of like once you take that very large step, all those solutions tend to fall in order. And that's essentially what you were just saying. It's very interesting. I used to be, I guess, quote unquote, the mean teacher, take my grading like super hyper seriously. And everything was like always according to plan, because that's just how as teachers, you're typically taught, which is ironic because we were actually taught a lot about like Freire and like push came to shove, make a lesson plan, do it this way. But ironically, I guess, in a way, the second that we stopped giving out grades, students actually did more. It's just a matter of being okay with accepting that initial risk or that initial step that you might be afraid of taking, which actually builds into the question I would have for you, which is how do you go about convincing people that are used to the way that they were taught to teach or the way that they grew up and what is expected in a sense, maybe from their administrator or just the mantra of being a teacher? Because there's the idea like you're a superhero teacher because you do this, this and this and you grade for four hours a day. How do you convince a coworker, as an administrator, that this is the direction that we should go?
SE: That's a really great question. And I've had some amazing experiences trying to figure that out. So one thing I notice is that if you just keep telling a teacher who's been trained in the way that you just described, you should get kids to do things they're really interested in. You should loosen the reins a little. You should make the day a little more fluid, whatever. They don't listen because you're just giving them another set of instructions that might or might not replace the ones they've already been given. But there are two questions you can ask most teachers, teachers who actually like kids, and that's most teachers, I'm glad to say. There are two questions you can ask that often are very powerful. One is to ask them what their real deep down in their heart of hearts, what's their goal for children personally? Because no one will say that their goal is to get children all over the neighborhood or the state or the country to do math facts super quick, or to spell a lot of words well, or to learn how to identify the most important sentence in a paragraph. Because if people think about who's really well educated in their own lives, they will never say, my uncle Noah because he can do a math minute better than anybody I know, or he can diagram a sentence like hell. If people don't think of that as what it means to be well educated or to be an informed citizen, they'll say, you know, my uncle Noah because he's so thoughtful, or he's so open to new experiences, or he really knows how to put together information from different sources and come up with a new idea. So if they begin to think about what the real goal of education is, or my aunt Marlene because she really knows how to listen to people and think from other people's perspective, another thing we value in the abstract. But if teachers get in touch with what they really think the goal of education is, and you work backwards from that, you say, okay, or maybe you have a more modest goal, maybe you're a first grade teacher and in your heart of hearts, your goal is to get kids to love reading. So if you work that, that's a great goal, because it turns out if you love reading, the doors of schools are open to you forever. And there's no limit to what you can learn on your own if you love reading. So let's say that's a really great goal for a first or second grade teacher. If that's your goal, and you work back from that, you will often see that the things you're actually doing again and again day after day are not things that will lead kids to love reading. If you think about well, what does get a kid to love reading? Acting out stories, hearing stories read to them, having really good books, and the biggest number one thing is having a chance to actually read and enjoy the books that you're reading. If you think, okay, so if reading, a love of reading is my goal, and this is what we know from psychology are the steps, I left out the most important one. The biggest, most important factor in loving reading is to begin with the chance to have extended conversations. So if you thought to yourself, okay, so if I'm a really great first grade teacher, I will give my students a lot of chance to have a conversation. Suddenly that makes sense, because you think, well, we know that's what leads to reading. And we know that the real purpose of kindergarten and first grade or kindergarten through second grade is to get kids to be readers. Suddenly what seemed like a radical, crazy idea doesn't seem that radical or crazy. It seems like the best path to achieving your goal. So that's one question you can ask is, what's your real goal here? And then to work backwards from that. The other thing that I think works incredibly well, and I've seen it happen, I've seen it look like someone was turning a light on in their brain, is when you ask teachers, and again, I say it's important that they love kids. If they don't love kids, none of this is going to work. But if they love kids and you ask them to think about the times in their classroom when kids are trying their hardest and really engaged and going through some kind of change, you know, understanding something that they didn't understand, able to do something they couldn't do before, working at a higher level than they have previously, they will begin to identify the times in the day that are not necessarily what they've been told to do with students, but the times when kids are doing things that matter to them, that seem to have meaning, that captivate children as real children, captivate them the way that they really are, as imaginative, as physical, as social beings, and they can build on that. You know, I had a teacher, I wrote about this in my most recent book, I had a teacher write to me, this was high school, and he was talking about, I think he might have been a physics teacher, and he taught really like the high level classes in his school, but he said the kids, you know, they're just doing it because they were told they have to or because they want to get a good score on their AP or whatever. He said, but I watched them after school in the after school program that I teach, and that's when they're most engaged, then I can't stop them, they love it so much. I think it was a robotics class or something. And he said, what do I do? I said, bring that into the school day. If you know that's what makes the kids work their hardest and think their best, why wouldn't you do that during the day? And he said, okay, I will. But it just took getting him to think about his own experience and his own observations of children. I mean, nobody knows kids as well as teachers do. And nobody has the teacher's repertoire for thinking of things that that are going to be engaging and challenging to kids. It's more a matter of letting them use that in the classroom. And too often, they're not allowed to use their wealth of expertise and knowledge of kids.
CM: So it feels so gross to ask this question every single time. But I know that if someone were listening to this, or if you were talking at a conference, and someone brought up a question, the first thing is going to be, well, what about standardized testing about SLOs, or, you know, your learning objectives, or whatever policy, an SLO, I don't know if that's just an Ohio thing. It's a student learning objective.
SE: So it's just basically, I just didn't know the initials. It's more, it's goes beyond Ohio.
CM: Okay, cool, then this will, this will be relevant then. So, you know, your pre test, post test, and, you know, seeing growth over time, and all these things that tend to get bogged down at the end of the day, and just taking a strict multiple choice test or something created by a robot or something that really has no relevance outside of for adults to track data, so they feel good about themselves. How do you convince someone that's become just so attached to that mattering? Like, I think, for example, like, a lot of times, we'll talk about this at work. Well, yeah, but they're gonna see our test scores, people are gonna want to come to the school anymore, or they're gonna think we're not doing a good job. So at the end of the day, we really to make sure those test scores matter. And a lot of times that just leads to doubling down on traditional policies, like back to basics. How do we go about convincing people to basically bite the bullet on standardized testing?
SE: Well, if I had the answer to that question, well, I'd have some great prize or a lot of money that I don't have. I mean, it's a very complex question. One way, and I talk about this in The End of the Rainbow, is to come up with alternative measures of the things you do value. So as I say in that book, we measure what we value, and we value what we measure. Most teachers, if they're asked, and they're being honest, will say that they don't really think standardized tests measure what they do, the most important stuff they do. And most of them will agree that it doesn't capture the most meaningful thing about their students. And then they're stuck. So they're measuring one thing, but valuing a different thing. That's how I started my research on curiosity. I began to think, well, which teachers often told me what they really cared about was not a standardized test score, but a child's love of learning, or their curiosity, or their interest in the world around them, or their hunger for information. And then I think, okay, that's what they really value. But what they're measuring, and what they're being measured by, are tests that look at something completely different. And my impulse, this was like 14 years ago now, or 15 years ago, was, okay, so let's come up with a measure of the thing we do value. Let's measure curiosity. And you know, that led me on a 15 year odyssey to try to measure curiosity. So that's a whole other story about how I got involved in that work. But I would argue, and I have had this conversation with school people all over the country, that one of the things a school can do is say, okay, well, we'll let them do the standardized test because we have no choice, that's mandated, and someone's going to look at those scores. And they're going to read too much into it, but that's their problem. But meanwhile, let's measure the things we care about. And you can measure them. The idea that the only thing you can measure is the thing that's on a standardized test. First of all, a standardized test, that's a meaningless phrase in and of itself. It just means a test where you've come up statistically with a norm of how kids of a certain age or whatever, how they generally do so that you can compare each individual or an individual group of kids to that norm. You could do that for any number of tests. And it doesn't have to actually be a paper and pencil test. It could be something else. But holding aside the standardized piece of that, let's just think about the things that are generally measured on those tests. They're fairly meaningless things. Like I said, like how to summarize something buried in the paragraph or how to do a lot of math problems very quickly. One of the things that's never measured in those math tests is whether you actually do use math to think about things that you need to think about, like how to find an address, to use a great example by the educational researcher Daniel Koretz. He was with a group of mathematicians and other college professors, and they were in New York City trying to find an address. And they couldn't figure out how to find the address because they didn't realize they could use algebra to solve the problems. We never measure people's disposition to use math, not only to solve practical problems, but to solve more complex abstract problems about the nature of the world around them. So you could come up with a test that would look at something like that. Or to take another example, since we know as developmental psychologists that extended conversations with children is the best way to prepare them for more specific kinds of formal education later on, why don't we measure the conversations that are going on in classrooms? And again, you can't do that with a paper and pencil test, but you can collect data on that. Psychologists do it all the time, record conversations and analyze them for depth and complexity and cooperation. So there are ways to measure the things that people like you and I might really value in an educational setting. A child's ability to identify interesting problems in the world around them, and then try to solve those problems. That's something you could measure. You can measure helping and cooperation. And that's a long-winded way of saying that one thing I do think that people like us need to do is come up with a measure of the things that we value, because it will never fly. It will not be acceptable in society in 2018 or beyond to say, well, we care about certain things, but we're not going to measure them. We just want you to trust us with your children. That's not going to happen.
CM: Yeah, that's a really good point. I never thought about it that way in terms of the fact that researchers obviously look at these things, so why would that not factor in? That makes a lot of sense now that you mention it.
SE: So yeah, and for people listening to your podcast who doubt that, they should think back to the most recent article they read, and I'm sure if they read magazines or newspapers, and I hope they do, that they've read in recent years about things like how people sort of control their appetite for dieting, or what makes people fall in love, or why some people gamble impulsively, or what unconscious bias is. So these are things that psychologists figured out how to measure, and most of us accept the findings of that research. We trust that psychologists have figured out how to measure all these subtle and visible complex phenomena, so why wouldn't we be able to measure things like whether a child likes books, or explores the world around her, or is able to engage in a complex conversation? Those are not very hard to measure, and in fact, in all those examples, we already have ways to measure them. We don't even have to come up with the method. We just have to think about how to use it in a school setting.
CM: Kind of moving into, I guess, actually really like a final question. I guess this is subtly a very grandiose question, which is basically what would be something that a teacher listening into this today could do tomorrow in their classroom that would make that much of a difference? Not something that would require a lot of planning, or something that would be like, whoa, I can't do that right now. I read a whole book on that. What could be something they could just do?
SE: What a great question. First of all, I want to say that I love that question because I love the idea that teachers can try some of the ideas that we're talking about without having to cause a revolution in their school, or throw out everything they already do, or change everything. I don't think that's realistic, and I don't think it's necessary. A lot of teachers are doing a lot of good stuff in their classroom already, or they're doing stuff they must do, and that's fair enough. I love the idea that you could do a little of this in your classroom and see how it goes, and not make a big deal of it, but just find out if it engages kids and leads to something good academically. They could do two things. They could start paying attention to what really absorbs their students, and then try to do a little more of it. It might be story time. It might be a particular kind of project. It might be a chance to investigate natural materials. It might be a chance to design their own experiments. It might be a chance just to have interesting arguments with one another over important topics, or to work together in groups that the teacher doesn't form for them. They could just pay attention to what engages their students, and then try to do a little more of it. That's one thing they could do. Another thing is if they already know something that their kids, their students find very absorbing, set aside 20 minutes, 30 minutes a day when they're just going to devote themselves and their kids time to that thing. And again, it could be just reading books. It could be having conversations. It could be some topic that the kids are fascinated by, and just give it a little time. And even that can feel scary. You use the word risk. It can feel risky and costly, but it's not that big a risk, and there are untold payoffs to doing that in terms of what a teacher will learn about what works in their classroom and what their kids respond well to. The second thing I would say is teachers, if they're listening to your podcast, they're already doing this, I guess, but they could read one new thing about this approach to education that might give them some ideas, or bolster an argument, or give them a new way of thinking about something. People underestimate the power of having a good way of thinking about something. So if as a teacher you have a hunch about how you want to do things, and then you read what some interesting educator has written about it, or psychologist, or parent, or whatever, it can really transform how you see your classroom. And seeing your classroom in a different way can lead to very good things.
CM: Exactly. I mean, that speaks to the heart of my shift. After I started thinking about it, I just read one book, like an Alfie Kohn book, for example, and I was like, whoa, like, wait, there's so much information on this. And you can kind of go down the rabbit hole from there. There's shockingly not a lot of research that supports, I guess, quote unquote, the other side. If that's what you want to call, like the very traditional notion, at least not those that support learning rather than just increasing your test scores, at least how that data correlates, if that makes sense.
SE: That's a great point. So I have a lot of colleagues who are, some of them are developmental psychologists, but some of them are cognitive psychologists, who study some very narrow thing about learning, like study habits for what makes you, you know, learn more, quote unquote. Your listeners won't see my little, you know, finger quotation. But whenever I ask them, well, what's learning in that study? What do you mean by learning? They will say, well, you know, of course, it's an experiment. So what we mean is, you hear a list of words, and you can repeat them back one day later, or one week later, or you hear some facts, and you remember them in two weeks. And most people who do that kind of research are themselves highly educated and will at some point say, of course, that's not the most important thing about school. It's not what they would want their kids to be experiencing in school. And that goes back to what you just said, which is the research that supports the efficacy of certain study habits or the value of drilling kids on certain skills, they can show that in the lab, and they'll stand by that. But very few of them would support that as an educational practice, because they themselves wouldn't value that in their own educational experiences or the experiences they would want for their children. So I think you're right that there isn't a lot, there's plenty of research to support individual tools for getting kids to memorize things or become more obedient. But when you put all that together, even the researchers, most of them wouldn't argue that that in and of itself points the way to a good educational model. Most of the things that are done in school that aren't very good for kids these days are not based on good research. They're based on one little adjustment at a time to a series of social and political and economic events that no one really thought through, which is how we landed with this sort of ungainly and oppressive system that doesn't really work for children, but everyone feels locked in by.
CM: Hope you enjoyed this podcast. We want to connect with you and hear your thoughts. Follow us on Twitter, YouTube, Medium, and other social media, and be sure to check us out on our website at humanrestorationproject.org. If you want to support us in our endeavor of starting a movement towards progressive ed through high-quality resources, consider supporting us on Patreon. Thanks again!