Is It Getting Better?
A summary of a massive study of more than one thousand classrooms across the United States in the 1980s reads:
Shared laughter, over-enthusiasm, or angry outbursts were rarely observed. Less than three percent of classroom time was devoted to praise� expressions of joy or humor, or somewhat unbridled outbursts such as "wow" or "great. —John Goodland, Director, "A Study in Schooling" (quoted in Armstrong, The Myth of the ADD Child)
Teachers were found to dominate virtually all elementary school classrooms, with students having little or no voice in what was being taught, and how. Seventy percent of instruction time was spent in talk, usually teacher to student. The remainder of the time primarily involved students working independently on written assignments, often with workbooks or worksheets. Less than one percent of the school hours involved students sharing opinions or engaging in openly reasoning about an issue. The situation appears to be getting worse, with a movement back to an even more teacher-textbook dominated classroom. Schools are even beginning to get rid of recess, so children have more time for "learning"--preparing for the all-important end-of-term tests.
Most children learn to comply, remain passive, and may outwardly appear to be successful students. Others, unable to accept such "stale fare" as they receive each day in class, begin slipping in achievement but keep up appearances to a greater or lesser degree. These, an estimated 50% of our nation's children, become our nation's underachievers. Finally, children whose unique ways of learning clash severely with one-style-fits-all traditional mode of education, are considered to have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder. Such a loss, so much untapped potential.