Stupid is as Stupid Does

I visit Guam from time to time, and have been impressed by a recent trend to turn the island from a backward and badly managed one into a haven and hope for all of the cultures of the South Pacific. So I was surprised to see a little gem of insanity entitled: I don’t want DI anymore!

It seems that Guam’s public (and private) schools have been world-class underachievers for years, and years. Some would say that their school system is a joke, but it is too serious to be funny. Everything they had tried only led them to educational failure after failure.

Not being an economic success in any way, shape or form, Guam went on a hunt for more money from the U. S. Federal Government. Who can blame them, the idea of free government grants is pretty compelling. And so they found a multi-million dollar grant that they could spend to improve their schools: all they had to do was implement a system of instruction that actually works. That’s not a big expectation is it? If it works, you can spend the money. If there is no proof that it works, then don’t waste the Federal Government’s (read that as your tax dollars, and my tax dollars) money.

The rant’s author, Elwin Champaco Quitano makes a point that G. W. Bush was in a Direct Instruction Classroom on 9/11. And while he froze on that morning, Elwin, September 11, 2001 was not any fault of Direct Instruction. In fact, The grant that is bailing out Guam’s crazy patchwork of failure came from our President, G. W. Bush (who actually seems to be a poster boy for Guam’s unreformed educational system.) He seems to have followed the advice of one of his wisest advisors: Laura, and advocated for educational reform. Unfortunately, Laura seems pretty silent on other important matters. That’s too bad.

Here it is in a nutshell: there are very few proven methodologies to get ALL children to read, write, and think at a standard level of competence. But there is one, and it’s called Direct Instruction (DI). It breaks the skills for teaching and learning down into the very simple, basic steps that make the best recipe for success. Plain and simple, DI does the job. It is like the mop that gets the floor clean. If you push the mop, you get the floor clean. If you teach using DI methods, the children learn.

And not just rote learning. DI increases the ability to write, think and be effective in our culture. When I walk down the beach in Guam, I am struck by the comments of parents who say that their third grade son is coaching the high school daughter because the son has skills in reading, analyzing and writing that the daughter needs.

Here is the trouble: Direct Instruction requires competent teachers. Teachers that can read and follow instructions. And follow through on their word. And not take their personal problems out on the children. That is the big drawback of DI. DI is a tool to get your island children educated. Just as a mop is a tool to clean the floor, you need to put the proper elbow grease into the job. And not just once: you need to mop that floor every day, and clean every corner, and not let the dirt pile up. Because that one little corner is really some little child who desperately needs the skill that only a competent, patient and dedicated teacher can provide.

The Chomorro people are actually a wise island people. The wisdom of the South Pacific is simple and practical. They know that the small fish always gets eaten by the big fish. This is the opportunity for the children of Guam to grow into the big fish.

People of Guam: Be proud of your island and work to help each other be effective in the world economy. Don’t listen to your straw bosses that are working against your future.

Straw Bosses of Guam: If you want free hand-outs from the Federal Government, you need to be smart enough to realize that there are conditions attached to those hand-outs. Plain and simple. You made a contract with the national government. If you want to back out, there are simple consequences. You pay the money back. If you want to do educational research, that’s quite a different contract. Go for it — after all, you are laboring under the delusion that the federal government has spent ‘billions’ on educational research. But don’t think you can do better than DI.

no, Elwin Champaco Quitano, Zig Engelmann does not perceive your children as stupid and poor. Evidently, you do, except possibly you own children. Zig Engelmann believes that education is for all the children. Why would a teacher not want a level playing field for the children? Even the hard to reach ones. You value education, just as you value cleanliness. After all, when you use that mop, you want to get all the floor clean, don’t you? Your morale as a teacher needs to be focused on the job well done, not on how heavy the mop is.

Children flourish under competent DI instruction. The weak link is those teachers who think they know something that they don’t. Elwin, if you want to get into educational research, that’s great. Change your profession and get into education research with both feet. But know that you will be playing in a different league, with people who are really sharp and really know what they are doing. And if you think teaching using DI is hard, it is far easier than doing real research.


  1. Efred Meseino
    Posted October 13, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    You are an idiot. This website makes no sense at all, and your writing sucks. If you’re such a DI loyalist, why don’t you learn how to read articles. You did not comprehend a single thing that Elwin Quitano wrote.

    Where are you writing from, a hole in the ground? It looks like everything here is written by you, which says alot about those who agree with your ramblings.

    Guam is a wonderful place. The next time you write, kindly place your real name so that we’ll be waiting for you in Guam. Or, better yet, we’ll research who you are and visit you sometime soon.

    Good luck to you. And, the next time you write negatively about Guam, keep in mind that there are thousands of Chamorros in your neighborhood!

  2. Posted October 13, 2007 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing. Your comments show much contemplation and foresight.

    Did you realize that in english, it is appropriate to have one topic in a paragraph. Your paragraphs don’t seem to have that attribute. Why so you think that could be?

    And yes, I think the Chomorro people are wonderful, just short-changed.

    Oh, forgot to tell you. Your newspaper was so embarrassed by the original article, that they seemed to substitute another article for the original. I guess that is what you mean by my not understanding. I apologize for that action on the part of the Marianas Variety. I’ll try to track down the original.

    Umm. There is no attempt to hide my name. It’s in plain sight. Maybe I should since you will be “waiting for me.”

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