In reading a recent post by Will Richardson regarding the upcoming Back-to-School speech by President Obama, I have become increasingly saddened by a thought I have been holding onto for awhile now but haven’t verbalized anywhere: Is “education” only about passing, GPAs, and getting into college? And if that is what has it become, how will learners today be driven to continue to be learners tomorrow, or the day after that?
I have become increasingly weary of kids asking me what is the least they can do to get such-and-such a grade; of administration telling kids to push for just a few more decimal points in their GPAs; of teachers spending literally months of Saturdays teaching kids how to take the SAT so that they can get a certain score, or if they don’t, then preparing them to take and retake it until they do.
I teach because I love to share thoughts and passions. Kids don’t want that. They want to know how they can get extra credit. Administration doesn’t want that. They want to be able to show progress on overall standardized test scores. Parents don’t want that. They want their kids to get into a “good” school.
So what then DOES it mean to be educated? 😦
“Be honest — what is a better sign of intelligence: excellence through memorization, or creative cheating schemes?”
Logged on to find this in my Twitter updates this morning…Had to laugh here alone in my office and then, unfortunately(?) wholeheartedly be honest about my answer…given only these two choices…I choose the creative cheating schemes, of course.
Now, that is not to say that I endorse cheating in any way, but given my distaste for standardized testing and what the push of nclb has created in our education system (“our” = “The US”), I would rather see a student think through an elaborate scheme to produce somthing that may or may not prove fruitful (problem solving anyone? risk taking anyone? … ) than be able to rattle off some senseless and personally meaningless facts that could easily be goolged if needed. This was partly my beef with the whole “look how terrible our schools are at geography” push from when I was attending. I often asked, what’s more important…that I “know” stuff like the total area Lithuania or the major port cities of the northeast or the fact that I (…we’re talking old school here) am able to use an atlas (yes, an actual hard-bound volume from a library using a card catalog with drawers and…CARDS!! … never cared much for the Dewey Decimal System either…but that’s another story …) to find such information? (no one ever liked when I asked stuff like that back then either…)
So what’s your vote?