by Benjamin S. Bloom ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 26, 1980
A musty collection of previously published articles on educational practice, spanning the last 30 years, from the Grand Old Man of learning objectives and evaluation. Some of the material on early childhood education was written in 1965, before the massive Headstart and Followthrough programs began; there, predictions of ""eradicating the educational problems of cultural deprivation"" within ten years now sound naive and culture-bound, and reports of home variables influencing school success have the disquieting ring of blaming the victim. A later article repeats these findings, and pronounces the lack of parental support for children's learning responsible for the lack of long-term success of early childhood education programs. Elsewhere, in contrast, Bloom strongly scores the educational establishment's failure to make use of research results. A case in point is ""mastery learning,"" a teaching-learning process through which Bloom says that 95 percent of all students can learn anything and everything, given time and appropriate instruction. The method, which includes feedback to the learner about his or her progress, and opportunities to learn from varied modes of instruction if the first, second, third, or twenty-seventh systems don't work, seems the essence of good teaching; yet ""coverage"" of the material and the expectation that students learn by a certain date or not at all appear to be the reigning practice still. Why, if mastery learning is such an effective instructional tool, hasn't it been adopted nationwide? Why, in short, the resistance? No commentary is provided, and it is sorely needed to place this technique in a contemporary context. Even the introductory chapters (by Lorin Anderson and George Madous, University of South Carolina and Boston College, respectively) are mainly summaries of the articles to follow, not guides to their implications or importance. Essays on formative evaluation (providing feedback and corrective information) and summative evaluation (providing end-point evaluative data), and on the influence of testing on curriculum and student attitudes, present points well-known to professionals. Suggestions that TV and movies be used to provide ""peak learning experiences"" (Ã la Maslow) now sound quaint; a description of the revision of the examination processes at the University of Chicago in the late Forties is tedious and without current application. Too many of these pieces, indeed, cannot stand alone; products of earlier times and places, they're better left in the archives.
Pub Date: Oct. 26, 1980
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980
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