Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll Shows Positive Attitudes Toward Education

The annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll has just been released. As always, this poll does an excellent job of surveying the public’s attitude and opinions about public education. This year among the topics addressed were student learning, teacher quality and the role of the federal government in public education.

On the topic of student learning the survey results were consistent with what we have reported in several previous posts regarding the impact of deliberate practice on student progress. We were delighted to see that the public overwhelmingly believes that “effort” is more important than “natural ability” in a student’s success. As educators and parents, we need to punctuate this point with our students and children. Carol Dweck’s research on motivation demonstrates that this type of attitude about effort is critical to promoting learning. Dweck found that when students perceived intelligence as fixed and static they did not perform as well in subjects that challenged them as those students that, instead, thought of intelligence as malleable. Dweck describes this latter group of students as having a “growth mindset”, a mindset that conceives of abilities as capable of being developed through dedicated effort and consistent work.

On the topic of “Teacher Quality” we found it refreshing that 71% of Americans say they have trust and confidence in teachers.  Two out of three Americans would support their child’s decision to teach in public schools. The potential transformative impact that a teacher can have on a student is best revealed through the selection of words many citizens used to describe the teachers that had most positively influenced their lives, words like “caring”, “encouraging”, “interesting”, “personable” and “of high quality”. (more…)

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