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For those of us who live in Indiana, we know summer is upon us because there are race cars making lots of noise rounding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And this year the race is even more special as it is the 100th running!

Although the first 500 was in 1911, races were not held five of the years that our nation was fighting a world war. Befitting an event that has lasted more than a century, many elements have remained the same. However, also befitting an event that has lasted more than 100 years, many elements have changed.

The key has been to determine which ones to keep and which ones to dump.

This key could also be applied to education.

I have discussed many of the changes over the past months. Far too many of them have been made to level the playing field or eliminate the potential for failure.

How those types of actions are going to help a child learn is a mystery to me?

When nine-year-old children come to tutoring in tears because they are afraid they might fail a (standardized) test, then I think there is too much stress on these children! When parents become stressed because their four-year-old does not know their letters, I believe we are robbing children of their childhood.

When school systems nationwide adopt a set of standards (Common Core) for the stated purpose of making sure all children of a specific age are learning the same thing at the same time, then I wonder why we even need teachers!?

Education has been turned upside down. The testing has become the most important activity. The testing is taking up more and more school time. The testing now is used not only to measure, but compare students. Additionally, they are used to evaluate and compare teachers, schools and school systems. Why?

Wasn’t education supposed to be for the children? Testing was a sometimes event just to make sure progress was being made and needy areas addressed. We did not need to know if the children at school Y were at the same level as those at school X.

Let’s apply the same thought process to the Indianapolis 500. Sadly, some of these ideas have affected the race. There was a time when an Indy race car could be built in a garage and have a really good chance of winning. Now the “tubs,” the major part of the car, are built in Italy and finished here – all at the same place.

When the concept of the race track and the race was first envisioned, the idea was to use it as a place to develop cars. Cars were a very new idea in 1911. For many years new ideas for cars often came via the Indianapolis 500, including but not limited to rear view mirrors, rear engine cars and turbine cars. (If you have never seen or “heard” a turbine car, go find a film clip. They were SO cool!)

Much like education the powers that be in the world of auto racing became concerned that some were doing too much better than others. Gradually, rules were implemented that dictated how the cars were to be built and by whom.

Now they all look and sound pretty much alike. Of course, we are told that having the cars alike – that really tests the skill of the driver. Maybe so, but wouldn’t it be even more exciting if the driver and the car were made just for each other? Just imagine what creative minds computer programs could develop!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  by

For several hundred years individuals and later individual schools educated America’s children. Then the U.S.’s powers that be – you know, all the super smart people in DC – determined that we were just not smart enough to educate our children. No matter that we had been doing it successfully for a long time! We had to have a U.S. Department of Education to take over.

It’s been just over 30 years since the U.S Department of Education was created. Are we smarter, doing better, graduating more? If you want to bury yourself in reports and statistics, there are multiple on-line by many reputable educationally based reporting groups. Overall . . . some improvement.

Some areas are better, some are not. What I find sadly humorous is that the lowest graduation rates in the nation are in the District of Columbia. We all know that these are not the children of our elected officials. They all go to private schools.

Sadly, our schools, much like the venerable Indianapolis 500, have become less innovative and less competitive.