This article by Ron Miller was written last fall, but there has been a new flurry of debate recently on the topic, which reminded me that it is just as valid today as it was then. If I was to write a response to such a worthless program, this would be it more or less. Thanks Ron, for doing the work.
The damage this continuing vision of competition and mindless drilling in our educational system was also scrutinized in the compelling film “Race To Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture”. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Because I am assuming you care like I do what is to become of the next generation coming out of this system.
Here’s my take: we are stuck in a system that was designed to churn out factory workers over a hundred years ago and we are stuck in a modern world that is catching up to us very quickly (or has already) in industry, design, development, and progress. So instead of taking a look at the new kind of citizen we need as our output to maintain our position in the global hierarchy (free thinkers and entrepreneurs anyone?), we have been creating an educational culture of competition and excessive busywork to make it appear as innovation instead of actually being innovative. For all the public lip service (and there has been a lot, my friends), there has not been much action (notice I didn’t say attention) paid to how children really learn and develop, the importance of adequate funds in education to the long-term health of this country and it’s citizens, or the faulty standards and testing hole we have dug ourselves into. Now, before anyone makes a comment about how we should have standards or there should be some sort of test to make sure children are being adequately educated, I would like to point out that I agree. Kind of. Perhaps if those standards were developmentally appropriate and teachers were trained to be good teachers instead of only having time to read a script to prepare children for a test that puts many of them at a disadvantage anyway, I might be more supportive.
In the end, it’s like putting too many layers of shingles on a rotting roof, when it really should be scraped clean and re-done properly.