For more than 100 years, public schools in the United States have operated on the theory that children learn by mastering the component parts of complex material before grasping the entire subject. In the current system, a carefully sequenced curriculum from kindergarten to graduation is determined largely by experts outside the schools. Within that curriculum, teachers and textbooks transmit information to students, who spend most of their time as docile recipients. They study structured textbooks containing drills and exercises that reinforce skills and knowledge they often perceive as having no relevance to the world outside the classroom. Emphasis is on the memorization of facts rather than on problem solving and creative thinking. And students are tested, drilled, and retested regularly to make sure they have learned the facts and absorbed the information.