Views on education (raves, rants, and hopes)

I’ve mentioned before that growing up I loved school.  I loved going to pick out new school supplies in September, organizing my desk in the classroom, practicing my handwriting, buying my first set of college-ruled notebooks, choosing courses for the first time in University, and taking a course out of interest vs. based on regulations. To this day I still love school, I love the process of learning, the gathering of new information, the collaboration of the classroom. I love the opportunity to constantly challenge myself and to work toward something higher.

But for  all of the love-fest on education I also have some beefs to make with education.  There have been a number of talks on education the power of creativity in education, the way in which we need to change education to fit the 2.0 world, and the awesome video on what a teacher actually makes.  I think the topic of revolutionizing education has been an evolving issue with each generation, but the power of technology (YouTube clips, TED talks, blogs) has enabled us to think together, as a society, about what our REAL values are with regards to the educational system.

When I listen to talks about education there are a few things that stand out for me, statements that I wish had been justified in my educational experience.  The first is from Chris Lehmann (Principal of the Science Leadership Academy)- he recently gave a talk about transforming education for the Web 2.0 world and in his talk he said, “why do we trust the test that is given on one day more than we trust the work they do over day?” He was referring to the SAT.( For those of you who might not be familiar with the SAT it is an entrance test all highschool students need to take if they want to go to college/university.) HELLO!  Chris, where were you when I needed you in my testing life?

Let’s rewind to Grade 11. I’m 16 years old, living in the States, attending one of the nation’s best public high schools and I have to take the SAT. Problem number 1 with the SAT.  It is all multiple choice. I’m almost 31 years old, I consider myself an intelligent young woman, and I have YET to figure out how to outsmart the multiple choice test.

My parents put me in SAT prep courses, helped me study nightly and encouraged me to use the ridiculous SAT vocabulary to embed them into my brain (like anyone actually uses those words in day to day conversation). [Side note- my parents are firm believers that the SAT’s do not equate to actual intelligence].

So growing up in the school system, rather than do well on multiple choice tests, I worked my bootie off. I studied a lot, I did my homework, I participated in all of the extra curricular activities, and I worked hard to make sure that if I did fail the multiple choice test I would be able to pull through regardless of a test score.  Fortunately this attitude has helped me a lot in life- you can’t teach a strong worth ethic and a good attitude.

When I think about taking multiple choice tests and placing more value on the outcome of an A,B,C, or D choice (man I hated that “all of the above” choice) I cringe. Where is the value on creativity? Where is the value on thinking for oneself, for making decisions outside of the A,B,C,D choice? I have written about Ken Robinson before, but let me re-iterate is philosophy on creativity. Robinson suggests that schools kill creativity, that our educational institutions focus curriculum on the subjects, on the rules, on the box that we are all supposed to fit ourselves into, and so many of our students and ourselves do not fix in that box.  Often when we do not fit in that box, that tidy wrapping where we sit in our desks politely, read what we are supposed to read, and write in beautiful cursive handwriting (who writes like that anymore?!), people classify the student who does not follow the above, as someone who lacks intelligence.

Creativity is not just about thinking outside of the box and I am not suggesting that students who are attentive and do as they are told are not creative (I was one of those kids that LOVED following the rules and I consider myself creative).  Making room for creativity is so important in play and work. (extracted from previous post).

What I hope for the future is that we continue the debate about the value of education and that we consider what our values and goals are in teaching our children and ourselves. I hope that eventually we can step away from the debate of incorporating creativity in the classroom, just as we moved from the one room school-house and created schools, and just DO IT- and I hope that we continue the debate, keep the conversation alive, and always consider ways to improve and change the way we learn.

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3 thoughts on “Views on education (raves, rants, and hopes)

  1. Great thoughts Amanda. I am glad you quoted ‘our pal’ Chris Lehmann his presentation was truly inspiring. Creativity definitely exists in a strong way in education but not in standardized testing.

    The other side of the story is that evaluation does have value. It helps administrators to know which schools need help. It is reflected in funding often which I consider a huge error. ~Without evaluation how will institutions know who is the smartest~ (~=sarcasm)

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    1. Thanks Kemp- totally agree, there are certain ways we can test to evaluate for much needed assistance, but for the individual student I think it can be detrimental at times. Thanks for forwarding on the Chris Lehmann video- I really enjoyed it- keep em’ coming!

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