I realized upon re-reading my blog post from yesterday that I said something I now see could have been misleading. That statement was “I continue to question the premise that our education was/is so bad.”
Quality education has always been and continues to be critical to the success of the United States. What I question is what has happened to public education in the past 30 – 40 years and why.
In the latter half of the 20th century the powers that be decided that public education was substandard in the United States. Based on that premise multiple changes were implemented.
Among those changes were ability grouping, main streaming, open classrooms, outcome based education, year round school, and my personal favorite – never ending standardized testing.
Many of the changes noted above came and went. I was told as a college senior that year round school was about to happen. My first teaching position was in a junior high school where the students were ability grouped. I am now a grandmother and still waiting for year round school. Ability grouping and open classrooms have come and gone.
The point is that none of this tinkering with public education has made much difference. The one thing that has stayed is the standardized testing, and that has continued to grow much like a monster that cannot get enough to eat!
The other element of public education that has grown is the elimination of what we used to consider as fundamental subjects such as Latin; the elimination of the shop classes and other apprentice type studies. In their place we have weeks of preparation for and taking of standardized tests and social engineering subjects.
I am so old fashioned that I believe that parents should be the ones covering social engineering topics. I also believe that the teacher should be the one who does the majority of the test prep.
Standardized testing has its place, but it has taken over. As I have noted previously, read any article on standardized testing and the majority of the article discusses money, teachers, school rankings, contracts – just about anything but educating children.
So . . . back to my comment about schools; there will continue to be new ideas, subjects and procedures that will need to be considered. That should not mean that older subjects must be dumped. Choices will need to be made.
What we are currently witnessing is the belief that “one-size-fits-all” education is the answer. In order to ensure that this belief is working, “we” must administer the never ending standardized testing.
The result that I see in my tutoring is too many very young children already stressing about school! Good grief! Third graders in tears because they fear not passing a test!
What are we doing? There must be a better way to ensure that third graders can read.