TEACHING STYLES AND PUPIL PROGRESS by Neville & Others Bennett
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TEACHING STYLES AND PUPIL PROGRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Already in the news here, this study of the academic performance of young children investigates those intensely debated issues that have lately polarized educational circles: do differing teaching styles result in disparate pupil progress and do different types of pupils perform better under certain styles of teaching? Although limited to third and fourth graders in England, its application to elementary schools generally and to the US seems inevitable. Bennett repeatedly chastises the Plowden Report, the Scripture of the open education movement, for its failure to cite hard evidence and challenges many of its conclusions with his own formally researched findings. An Educational Research Lecturer at the University of Lancaster, he designed this project with due regard for the complexity of the classroom setting and was vigilant in anticipating areas of criticism. The verdict? In reading, mathematics, and English usage, only low-achieving-boys benefit from informal classrooms; high-achieving boys and girls of all abilities show greater improvement in formal classrooms--they work more and interact less with no detrimental social consequences. In writing--often the most praised part of open programs--Bennett used the estimations of teachers of all persuasions to show there is no demonstrable difference in performance. Overall the effect of teaching style is more powerful than the effect of student personality variables, and negative behaviors--neuroticism, introversion, anti-social actions--tend to increase in informal settings; therefore, those commonly believed to profit from the lack of formal direction actually suffer personally and academically. Although the pertinence of this study to American schools will be disputed and all of its many aspects will be scrutinized for weaknesses, the implications of its findings cannot be ignored.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press