"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Education Reformers Discard Creativity and the Sunday Education Weekly Reader 07.22.12

Life is not linear nor standardized, no matter how hard ed reformers try to shape it into a neat & predictable data set.

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 07.22.12.

A tweet from Sir Ken Robinson says volumes in 140 characters or less:

A big problem for linear, standardized systems of education is that human life is neither.

From the Amazon link:  

March 1, 2011
"It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative."
Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson is known for his support for creative thinking and distaste for scripted education.  

Now look at one of the articles advocating "locking the resources away" and creating students wholly dependent on becoming compliant and widgets, the exact opposite of becoming creative.  From EdWeek:


New Testing System to Gauge Career and College Readiness

A new assessment system to measure career-related content was unveiled today by the National Academy Foundation, a network of 500 career-themed high school academies, and WestEd, the San Francisco-based educational research nonprofit.

The NAF Student Certification Assessment System has been piloted in select schools over the past two years and will be rolled out this fall to about one-third of the 60,000 students at NAF academies. While the system will be built on the NAF network, the hope is that it will become a model that other high schools would adopt, says Andrew Rothstein, special adviser for education policy with NAF.

Just as a college-admissions officer might look at a student's grade point average before offering a spot in its freshman class, an employer could benefit from knowing a graduate's level of job-skill proficiency before extending a job offer. Also, students who complete career programs are often strong candidates for college, but it can be difficult to gauge their readiness with current tools.

There are three parts to the NAF certificate:

1. Project assessments: Students would be evaluated on curriculum-based, classroom projects that demonstrate proficiency in technical content and skills. 

2. End-of-course exams: The tests would include a variety of questions to reflect depth of career knowledge.

3. Work-based learning assessments: Supervisors would give feedback on students' ability to apply career and technology knowledge on an internship.

With the system, all assessments would be done online, and students would be given a score at the end of each NAF course. The assessments were designed with input from industry professionals to reflect what is needed in the workplace, according to NAF officials.

The NAF academics, which are located in 39 states, currently focus on five industry areas: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. NAF was founded 30 years ago with a focus on closing the achievement gap and serving low-income, at-risk students.

The NAF system is intended to complement the assessments being developed for the Common Core State Standards, says Rothstein. While the common core emphasizes more college readiness, this system looks at career- and college-readiness as defined by core academics, career knowledge, foundational skills, interpersonal skills, and self-management. (The groups developing common assessments have wrestled over the definition of career readiness.)

Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of the office of vocational and adult education with the U.S. Department of Education, moderated a panel discussion on the new system at the NAF event in Washington today. Employers are having difficulty finding qualified workers because too often they lack the right combination of academic and technical skills. "We must help business and industry find the workforce they need," said Dann-Messier, adding that there needs to be an increased emphasis on a system to assess career readiness—not just college readiness.

On the panel, Stanley Rabinowitz, director of assessment- and standards-development services for WestEd, said that for too long there has been an unfortunate distinction between instruction and assessment. With this system, part of the evaluation is embedded in the curriculum, and the cumulative aspect of the students' work is considered. It better mirrors the workplace and how employees improve through feedback and peer review, he said.

Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, said the NAF Student Certificate could be an extra tool to help evaluate students in the college-admission process. "It is not going to replace the current admissions process, but it adds a couple of elements that helps college and universities make decisions," he said.

The technology makes it easier to assess students' career-readiness, and the economic imperative creates a perfect time to launch this career- and college-preparedness measure, said J.D. Hoye, president of the NAF. The focus should be on lifting both paths, college and careers.

The best reason for assessing college and career readiness is that then teachers will cover both. "What you test is what you get," said Rabinowitz. "It's our responsibility to test responsibly. If we want assessment to go a certain way, we better reward teachers who teach that way."

The assessment will give a full picture to a college or employer about a student's applied career knowledge, said Rabinowitz.

Rawlings said there is a need for instruments that are clear-cut and simple to help understand basics about students. "I'm finished with the idea that there is one way to save our schools," he said. "There is not one great answer."

ACT Inc. recently announced its plans to roll out digital college- and career-readiness tests for students beginning in 3rd grade.


This is one of the saddest and bleakest articles on the future path for education I've read in a long time.  Is there any doubt in anyone's mind what education means today?  As Sir Ken Robinson wrote:

"It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves."

Did the EdWeek article mention anything about teaching students to think for themselves so they can make decisions in directing their own lives, or did you take away that "the assessments were designed with input from industry professionals to reflect what is needed in the workplace?"  

Why would a student even attempt to be creative and think out of the box when all that's required and rewarded for students is to learn "what is needed in the workplace?  This "common" type of education and testing will certainly create compliant students but not supply the creative educational foundation needed for new ideas and technologies.  

Don't believe teachers will applaud, support or know how to teach those students who learn "outside of the box".  Remember what the spokesperson from NAF stated? "If we want assessment to go a certain way, we better reward teachers who teach that way."   The assessments are driving what and how your children learn so they can become useful tools for the workforce.  The assessments are primary, not the knowledge or creativity imparted so students can become independent thinkers and responsible for their own lives and decisions.

When your legislators say "it's for the children" and support Common Core standards and the education reform set forth by corporations such as StudentsFirst, National Academy Foundation and WestEd, they are "turning the key locking the resources away" from the children they are supposed to be helping.   "It's for the children" has become "It's for the corporations".


1 comment:

  1. This is a great article. It never ceases to amaze me the extent of indoctrination in schools. It's all about building little robots, not about education at all.


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter