No child left behind – No child left thinking. No child left untested – No child left.
I gathered many conclusions after watching the above presentations about standardized tests, democracy, and critical thinking. These are examples from the United States and although the Canadian education system may seem better off, we would be wrong to assume that these influences from south of the border do not affect us. Overall the government, education policy makers, or curriculum developers and teacher and parental philosophies are not aligning. Parents want their children to be happy and are of course concerned about the development of the whole child or student. However, focus is currently being placed on academic goals, and the curriculum is individualistic and narrow. There is a push for excellence in numeracy and literacy. Most teachers not only want to teach these skills but also want their students to understand these skills, how to apply them, and to be critical thinkers. However, in the world of education right now, the purpose is to achieve instead of think.
Since there is this emphasis on achievement, an obsession with going to university, and beginning to prepare students for their futures at a very young age, the passion is being taken out of education. Teachers have an obligation to teach to the test instead of teaching and learning for critical thinking. Laws in some areas of the US now control how teachers can teach and have taken away self-expression, individualism, or even prompting students to think about controversial issues. Instructional time is being replaced by test prep time and all of these are very scary realities.
Teachers do not become teachers in order to tell their students what to think, they become teachers to show their students how to learn, explore, and come to their own conclusions. Do we really want students to agree with everything that adults say? Believe everything that they see and hear in the media? Take everything as it is? Not question anything? Or do we want our future society to take it upon themselves to find the answers and make informed opinions and decisions? That is preparing students for the 21st century, not feeding them the answers so that they will do well on standardized tests.
In order to achieve this, we need to think about challenging our own common sense ideas, what we take for granted, and how things have always been done. There is a diversity of talent and ability in people for a reason. Wouldn’t our world be boring if we were all the same? Knowing this, how can we teach and test all of our students in the same way? People are all different and should not be subjected to the same learning and tests as if everyone fits into the same box. As Ken Robinson highlights in his TED Talk, since when has it been a competition to get into the right Kindergarten? There are a lot of academic standards and expectations being placed on students when they should just be concentrated on being themselves.
If we want our students to really engage in their learning, curriculum must become personalized to reflect the passions that all of our students have. Diverse talents, abilities, and intelligences should not be stamped out by a standardized way of teaching and learning that is taking over the education system. What does standardized testing say about what we want our world to look like?
Posted on April 12, 2015, in Education Core Studies (ECS) 350, Topics Of Interest and tagged critical thinking, no child left behind, passion, standardized tests, TED, TEDtalk. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.