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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

May 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Your voices: Readers share views on direct instruction and Gildo Rey

Illustration by Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

Thanks to the many readers who shared their thoughts about Auburn’s Gildo Rey Elementary, featured in an Education Lab story a few weeks ago, and the school’s use of a teaching technique known as direct or explicit instruction.

Many expressed strong support for direct instruction, and a number backed using a variety of techniques, which is really what Gildo Rey does.

Commenter Dorboln is one who expressed the latter:

The big issue in education, math in particular, is that everyone thinks you need to go 100% traditional or 100% inquiry, or believe the two are mutually exclusive, which they are not. You need to blend the two.

Blue N Green agreed:

It’s tempting to look at education as a single problem in search of one assembly-line solution, but it simply isn’t and never will be. Kudos to these teachers for finding the approach that works FOR THEIR KIDS. This does not mean it works everywhere, always.


Seattlelogic took issue with guest commentator Jack Schneider,  the College of the Holy Cross assistant professor who argued that while direct instruction works, he’d never want his child in a school that uses it.

This seems to be an elite ideal that we should ‘want everything for every child’ and my heart believes in (that) but  I have watched an environment committed to that ideal fail my child badly, leaving him multiple grades behind and struggling every single day to stay up with what is happening academically…All the art in the world doesn’t help a kid who feels stupid.

And PS Strand wrote:

Any evidence that direct instruction kills the spirit for learning and creativity?  None exists, or the professor would have cited it. But there is evidence that children whose basic skills and grades are improved by direct instruction are, in fact, empowered by those successes–just like you and I are empowered by our successes.

Don_Matt, while supporting a mix of approaches,  sharply questioned the argument made by Marcy Stein, a professor at the University of Washington-Tacoma, who wrote a guest opinion piece  saying direct instruction is the right approach for all students.

Dr. Stein should have mentioned that a large part of the reason we have constructivist approaches to teaching is that we, as a nation, were not satisfied with our students’ progress when we only had direct instruction techniques – especially in math.

And artgardner lamented the lack of art instruction.

As an artist and public school art teacher, I find it tragic that some educators feel no responsibility to educate children in every subject…

While the STEM kids at Gildo Rey may be achieving high test scores, what is happening to the children who would be artists?

Finally, commenter whatnow looked to the future, wondering how  Gildo Rey will fare under next year’s Common Core testing:

I am beyond-thrilled that these students and teachers have experienced and tasted such success. I just hope that what these teachers and students experienced translates into the new expectations and the new assessment.

This is just a sampling of the conversation. Thanks again to all who joined in — and please keep the ideas, comments and questions coming.

Comments | More in Your voices | Topics: direct instruction, Gildo Rey Elementary, Jack Schneider


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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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