We also discuss how slowly real change will occur if policy makers continue to emphasize the importance of standardized testing.
How do we rank among the other developed nations of the world?--let's look at test scores.
Are students learning?--let's look at test scores.
Are teachers effective?--let's look at test scores.
Are charter schools better than public schools?--let's look at test scores.
Does a school deserve funding?--let's look at test scores.
(Notice a pattern here?)
Policy makers know best. Surely standardized test scores, and the subsequent, "teaching to the test" are the right paths we need to tread in order for our students to become globally competitive. Let's measure a teacher's effectiveness with standardized tests and then, if the tests scores are high enough, let's pay them more, even though we know full well that each classroom of students is vastly different. That will surely solve everything!
Not so fast.
Enter stage left, my top three modern-day educational revolutionaries: Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, and Alfie Kohn. I appreciate these guys because I agree with them. They make sense to me. They push my thinking. It's because of them that I find myself in the midst of a complete teaching transformation--a renewal.
|Sir Ken Robinson|
In his presentation I heard things that struck me to the core as an educator. It confirmed my suspicions that we are over-emphasizing "testable" areas of education and under-emphasizing areas that matter just as much as reading, writing, and arithmetic. When I was done listening to his words, I asked myself, "What am I doing?".
Several years later I got to hear Alfie speak in Kentwood, Michigan. He spoke about homework, rather the needlessness of homework, based on his book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Are Getting Too Much of a Bad Thing. After his presentation, I asked myself, "What am I doing?".
Will is a forward thinker who demands that education, as we know it, should change--needs to change. He pushes against educational dogma. Why standardized tests? Why standardized standards? Are all students in all of the states alike? (watch this video). After listening to his talk at my school, and reading his blog posts on Weblogg-ed I ask myself, "What am I doing?".
What I truly appreciate about all three men is they are looking beyond standardized tests (rightly so) as the key to improving education. What's more, they are fighting the good fight on our behalf. They ask: Why are the policy makers, in a vain attempt at measuring learning on a state, national, and global scale, mandating ideas that do not work? Why are the few (who aren't teachers by the way) driving the policies that many must follow with very little input from the people in the trenches?
Keep it simple. Let's teach the child. Let's hear from the teachers.
Noticing a pattern here? That's why I appreciate them.