So long, Zig

Filling the pail

This weekend saw the passing of Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann. He was a giant among educators and a true social justice warrior. By that, I mean that he dedicated his life to improving outcomes for the disadvantaged, not that he was some great wet lettuce who opined about emotional labour and set his critics three books to read before he would discuss anything with them.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Engelmann took part in the largest educational experiment of all time – Project Follow Through. The aim was to give disadvantaged kids the best possible start to their education. The planned U.S. government funding was cut by congress, so what was intended initially to be a large scale intervention was stripped back to an experiment. The idea was that of ‘planned variation’. Different groups would develop their own programmes and implement them in different centres. Outcomes from the…

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