Is it Time to Cancel Teach Like a Champion?

Teach Like a Champion, the best-selling guide to effective teaching by Doug Lemov, has sold millions of copies. But a growing group of critics charge that Lemov’s approach is racist and embodies “carceral” pedagogy. And because we have a thing about education history, we go all the way back to 1895 to explore another controversial teacher training model: The Hampton Institute, founded at the end of the Civil War with the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy. Special guests: Ilana Horn, Joe Truss and Layla Treuhaft-Ali.  Complete transcript available here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

One Comment

  1. “If we can imagine that those kids matter, and that they are going to live full lives, and that, it is up to all of us that they get access to everything that the most powerful would want… it becomes unthinkable to say that it works and pointing only to test scores.”

    I agree that many schools need to re-examine their emphasis on test scores and its detrimental effect on students. But I do not agree that most teachers/schools who use TLAC strategies do so solely in search of high test scores. (When asked to defend something, it’s natural to turn to measurable metrics; if you were to ask most TLAC users if they believe test scores are an adequate measure of a schools’ efficacy, I highly doubt they would agree. )

    In my experience, the most helpful part of TLAC – by far – are the strategies that focus on fostering rigor, intellectual risk-taking, and joy in the classroom. Some examples: Show Call, Art of the Sentence, Culture of Error, Habits of Discussion, Batch Process, Break it Down, Stretch It, Precise Praise, etc. From what I’ve seen, these strategies can help teachers build lively, discourse-driven lessons, not to mention classroom cultures in which intellectual risk-taking is genuinely celebrated and encouraged.

    I agree with you all that many schools – especially charters – need to engage in serious self-reflection around their values & vision vis-a-vis testing culture. But, IMO, using TLAC as a proxy for this larger issue does not seem like the most constructive way of promoting this change.

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