Thursday, June 03, 2004

I've come up for air from a long week of thesis edits. And after a week of changing this paragraph and that sentence and the thickness of that line in my plot to please collaborator X, Y, or Z, it kind of makes me wonder what the purpose of all of this is. What I mean is, why do we go to school? What is it that we are here to learn? Are we here to grow and learn, or are we here to learn how to follow orders? I get things done more quickly and with less hassle if I don't challenge what people are telling me to do, even if I think they're wrong. But is that really what I was supposed to be learning?

Which ties back to the Edweek article hoagieboy mentioned (Sunday, May 30th). It discusses standardized testing in the UK, and touches on the different visions of the purpose/priorities of schooling. Some, those in favour of the standardized testing, say that 75% of students must read at level 4 by the time they are 11 years old, for example. Others worry more about students' self-esteem, growth as a person and so on.

I think that education can and should be a mix of both ideas -- learning certain skills that are necessary (reading, writing, math, science/science literacy), but also learning to learn, learning about what fascinates you, art, music, physical activity, growing as a person. Testing does have some part in that, but it seems ridiculous to have a cookie cutter model where we are going to judge the small rural school in Oklahoma with the same standards as the inner city school in Los Angeles or the schools in Utah where students spend FOUR hours every day on the school bus. (If you're curious, here's the story in the NY Times.)

- makigirl

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