Education Is More Than Checklists

Joseph Ganem,  a professor of physics at Loyola University Maryland, wrote an op/ed for the Baltimore Sun entitled “It’s time to rethink the purpose of standardized tests.” 

He makes the following point that I think is spot on:

An approach to education based on standards invariably results in checklists being brought out and omissions noted, rather than accomplishments cited. It is a general truth of the human condition that the list of knowledge and skills a person possesses will always be short compared to the list that person lacks. Education, when viewed through this lens, becomes an exercise in futility.

Absolutely. With the current shift of education becoming about workforce development that has brought about standards-based reforms, students lose out on what was once a well-rounded education. Ganem continues:

Articulating and assessing “standards” is also a futile exercise. A list of skills for “college and career readiness” — to borrow a recent phase — is guaranteed to be obsolete before anyone has a chance to graduate, because the world is changing too fast. The history of Maryland testing shows this to be the case. However, there are two constants in all the change: the need for life-long learning and the fact that the economy is demanding a greater diversity of talents, skills and dispositions; not less.

Read the whole piece.

2 thoughts on “Education Is More Than Checklists

  1. A well rounded education? It was leaving students unprepared & needing remedial training that should have been part of K12!

    1. Standards-based reform started with NCLB in 2002. Any problems you perceive regarding preparedness and “training” can be placed squarely on this failed approach. Like many reformers you misconstrue the role of public education.

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