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The Seven Laws and the Turnaround of Education 2020

In 1886, John Milton Gregory propounded Seven Laws of Teaching. These have, today, been universally dismissed by the credential-heavy, intelligence-absent cabal that is state education.

In their defense, whatever else they may be, the students today are eager to learn, at least in the very early years. That’s one of two shining points of pride in the school systems, the other being the dedication of most of the teachers. The shame enters with the handcuffing of the teachers and the deliberate dulling of the adventurous young brains. The system has departed, willfully, from the rules with predictable results.

Here follows a brief summary examination of Gregory’s Laws versus modern reality.

Law One. The teacher possesses complete knowledge of the subject and teaches from literal authority. From thence, the knowledge passes from leader to pupil without diffidence or degradation. Again, today, the teachers generally know and the students, initially, want to understand. The disconnect comes from a foremost emphasis on pedagogy, on the systematization of everything of procedure at the expense of everything material, wherein quality control kills quality.

Law Two. Keep the class centered on the lesson. Do not proceed without the full attention of the students. This is today, completely lost after maybe the fifth grade. So many years of command and control have turned off the child’s mind at the worst time – when hormones commence natural interference. Strategically, all is already lost. Tactically, more attention is paid to phones and games and other instruments of immediate satisfaction than to the lecturing or questioning instructor. The repeated Socratic inquiry is met with blank stares and grunts of “Huh? What?” 

Law Three. Communicate clearly in a language known to both student and teacher. This is a challenge under any circumstances, given the gap between the ages and experiences of the two groups. It is made much worse today by the general loss of literacy skills (reading and writing) and SPEAKING skills among both groups. In the near future, any instruction may be impossible as the grunting and distracted students of today attempt to educate future generations of even more confused grunters.

Law Four. Through easy, natural steps, build new knowledge upon that which is already known. We used to call this cumulative learning or, simply, building blocks. Today, there is, at just about any given level, nothing upon which to build upon. Without Sally, Dick, and Jane, there is no progression to Bunyan, Shakespear, or Flaubert. Without 2+2, there is no quadratic expression nor slope differentiation.

Law Five. Using the child’s natural curiosity, push him to explore and understand the truth as, or even before it is presented. Channel the energies, so to speak. Elementary-aged children still constantly exhibit the natural inclination to gain the wonders of the universe. However, in a system bent on crushing such possibility and replacing it with fear and mediocre complacency, there is little to channel even if there is a direction in which to flow.

Law Six. Mandate the reproduction of acquired knowledge, by the student, in a manner of her expression and with words of her own. The children should make the subject matter, whatever it is, their own. This step requires subject matter, energy, interest, and common language, all woefully lacking today.

Law Seven. Review, review, REVIEW! Build what follows upon what already exists and is plainly understood. This is replaced today with TEST, TEST, TEST! While a test, generally at the end of a study, serves to confirm understanding, we have reached the point where the test itself is the course of study. The French concept of le Bac comes to mind as a proper example – the finality of enterprise with confirmation of success or suggestion of needful remediation. In American schools, there’s the teacher’s biology test, the local system’s assessment of skills gained from the teacher’s biology class, the state’s standardized test of the same, outside standardized testing of the same, and more, in addition to testing of the teacher’s test. And, of the teacher. Test overload, with or more likely without underlying factual comprehension.

Why are these laws out of fashion? Simply put, it’s because they are aimed at literal education. That’s not the goal of modern schools. They serve two purposes: 1) fostering listless conformity, and 2) providing make-work for nit-to-mid wits. As when any industry descends from an enterprise into a racket, two classes of people evolve – doers and parasites. Given enough time, the parasites take over, outnumbering and overpowering the doers. In education, the doers are the teachers. The parasites are the educrats, administrators, and hangers-on.