I was amazed when I realised that all that psycho-babble about learning styles is still used in education.
Why aren't trained educators able to find out or work out for themselves it's a load of nonsense?
Well I think the thing about that is that it sort of sounds plausible. And of course it is true that people learn in different ways. The issue for me has always been that this fact - that we all learn in different ways - should be translated into requiring teachers to teach
in different ways and that there is some kind of requirement to tailor that to the 'learning styles' of the class. This is blatant nonsense - someone listed at one point 62 different learning styles - is a teacher meant to offer this array of styles? A good teacher will use different methods and will suggest ways in which children might learn material, but at the end of the day we have to take some responsibility for our own learning and requiring a teacher to run about making noises for auditory learners, acting things out in mime for visual/interactive learners or making touchy-feely models for the supposed kinaesthetic ones is not the way to go.
With regard to your last point - well. I always felt that synthetic phonics was not the best way to teach children to read. It is boring, lacks connection with actual language and makes reading into something which appears to be mysterious and needing 'unlocking' rather than something a person of average intelligence is very capable of picking up almost by themselves when they are ready to do so. But look at the phonics revolution which swept our schools! Children were going around making 't t t' noises and flinging their heads from side to side ('t' for 'tennis' - of course
, which is outside the experience of almost all 4 year olds, but that is another matter), and weren't allowed near an actual book until they had mastered all these 'phonemes' (they all knew that word at 5!). This was mainstream stuff - everyone bought into it (my conscience is clear!). Well not everyone actually as one of my closest friends is HOD at a university teacher training institution and she was tearing her hair out over it. Either way, now look:http://educationmediacentre.org/researc ... udy-finds/http://educationmediacentre.org/blog/go ... rs-really/
And in that last one you have the answer to your question: 'government imposition of
...'. Here we allow the government to decide exactly what goes on in schools. Justine Greening, our new Education S of S, has no background in education, and nor did either of her immediate predecessors. When she was appointed a week or two ago the types of people who appeared on her doorstep within a few days to brief her weren't neuroscientists or teachers. So basically we end up at the mercy of ideologues, consultants and spin doctors who get in quick and get their agenda across. Huddles and parties and little cosy briefings and boom! you're in. And yes it really is like that. And because in England we like nothing better than a new initiative, there is no time to check it works before you introduce it - someone brings out a flash study in a pretty document with lots of charts in and your minister is hooked. And then the poor civil servants in the DfE (I think there may still be a few of them left) get the job of trying to water it down and turn it into something which might look plausible and sell, but never mind if not because the next person in post will get rid of it anyway.
Sorry, long rant and long and incomplete 'answer' to your question. But after one year of training, on the job, in which they are basically thrown in and largely left to get on with it, most new teachers aren't in any position to challenge that kind of stuff, frankly. In the case of phonics, they weren't allowed to as it became statutory (how do we allow this?!) and in the case of learning styles - well, like the brain gym, the mindfulness (that will be next to go), the drinking water all day, it sounds good and progressive and is rooted in some kind of 'truths' so why not? Because saying 'I have always taught this way and it seems to work' doesn't go down very well here, does it?