Death of a dogma?

Filling the pail


In the late 1960s, David P. Weikart embarked upon a study. He and his team randomly assigned preschool students from poor backgrounds to one of three different curriculum models – a standard nursery school, a preschool programme based upon the Direct Instruction approach developed by Carl Bereiter and Siegfried Engelmann and a child-centred preschool programme developed by Weikart and his team known as “High/Scope”.

Weikart and colleagues then followed up the original participants at age 15, found little difference in academic outcomes but claimed to have found that children who participated in the Direct Instruction model were significantly more likely to be involved in criminal behaviour. These findings have been strongly challenged by Bereiter and Martin Kozloff. The main criticisms centre on the implausibility of such a long-term effect based on a limited preschool programme, the small sample sizes, the high rate of attrition, the fact that the High/Scope…

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