Imagine a world where there is no homework.
Imagine a world where there are no tests.
Imagine a world where children are not pressured to get a 4.0 average, and where we don’t know what children’s test scores are because there are no test scores.
Does this sound too far out?
Would it work?
In our current system of education of course none of this exists.
But what if we chose to replace knowing with precision that our children do not know with not knowing that our children do know?
Would that be acceptable to you?
Is it better that children know information, or is it better that we know that they don’t know?
In our current system teachers spend a lot of time drilling facts into children which they promptly spit out on the test a few weeks or maybe a few months later in order to get grades that statisticians pore over, then wave around in the air.
Suppose that teachers didn’t teach in this manner.
Suppose that children didn’t learn in this manner.
Suppose that instead of drilling numbers and facts into children’s heads, teachers and students spent the day talking about the subject material at hand.
There would be no tests because the discussion would be the test.
Would this be workable?
Well, I am willing to bet that those of you who are reading these words here have not taken a test in English proficiency in a long time.
If that is the case, how can you possibly be qualified to understand these words?
Yet, you are.
You are all qualified to understand these words, and you are understanding these words.
How can this be?
Especially since I have no piece of paper to wave around in the air that proves that you can.
Well, it can be because because you speak English every day.
Yet to many of our leaders in today’s society, proficiency is determined by you taking a test.
And, of course, the higher you score on the test, the more proficient you are.
Concomitant with this thinking is the idea that if you don’t take the test, you might not be proficient.
Yet you understand these words.
The point I’m trying to make is that a better way of education is to engage students in active discussion of the material at hand.
Engaged students are happier students.
As are students who don’t have to wheelbarrow home mountains of work.
As are teachers who have to grade less papers.
We waste time with these methodologies and decrease quality of life.
We also waste much time and energy on standardized tests which don’t test student’s ability to think or their true comprehension of the subject matter.
We do this in order to make statisticians feel good.
There is something comforting in being able to wave a piece of paper around that has numbers and statistics written upon it.
Numbers when written down are concrete and seemingly certain.
They look good.
But are we doing good, or are we just making ourselves feel good?
I suspect the latter.
In forcing students to take these standardized tests, local or national, we not only do not get a true understanding of how well children know the subject matter, we also place enormous stress upon the student.
Moreover we encourage the idea that some people are better than others because they score higher on a test.
We begin to pound slogans into their heads like “no excuses” and “failure is not an option.”
Such inordinate stress results in tremendous physical and psychological damage to children.
In time such stress takes its toll.
It can take its toll in medical illness, suicide, violence to others.
But, we have that sheaf of papers which tell us with certainty, or so we think, that these students don’t know the subject material.
Which prompts the question: is it better that we know that we don’t know, or is it better that we don’t know that we do know.
Well, did you understand everything that I said here? Do you need to take a test in English proficiency to prove it?
Copyright 2021 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved