To the Editor:
Maybe we’re all talk? So an English teacher (actually her school’s department head) from a country on the other side of the globe visits several suburban high schools in Ohio, schools that are considered among the higher-quality schools in the area. And she asks me after her visits, “Why am I being taught throughout my staff-development work back home that American schools engage students, utilize interactive lessons, and have reduced lecture-style teaching?” She said that during her two weeks in American high school classrooms, all she saw was teachers talking to students, lecturing them, and students sitting passively listening to teachers. I had no answer.
True, the foreign visitor saw only a snapshot of instruction in these schools. But just as true is that in her unannounced, non-evaluative pop-ins, maybe she saw what really happens daily in our high school classrooms. Maybe the exception is an engaged student-centered lesson, and the rule is old-fashioned teacher-centered lecture, with downtime at the beginning and end of class.
Do you ever wonder if we talk a good lesson but don’t really produce too many of them?
American Educational Consultants
A version of this article appeared in the June 09, 2010 edition of Education Week as American Education: All Talk, No Innovation?