Education Won’t Save Our Children

chalkboard image by lewisr1There is so much debate lately about Education Standards (Common Core) and Standardized Testing. The problem is, we’re focusing on the wrong thing. Changing the standards won’t help our children succeed.

One side of the argument I hear so often is that we’re falling behind the rest of the world. Let’s just say we come up with the perfect standards that are the best in the world, and then we come up with the perfect test that measures our kids to those standards with amazing accuracy. Do we win then?

What is the goal? Is it to have the smartest kids in the world? Is it to have the best educated kids in the world? I don’t think those are the goals at all. A better set of questions is, will they be healthy? Will they be happy? Will they be prepared to face the challenges of the world to come? Will they be free?

I don’t think they will be, and aren’t those the things that ultimately are what we want for our children?

Let’s think about what made America great, why it is (or at least was?) the greatest Nation. Our forefathers didn’t come here to get a better education. They didn’t come here to be the smartest nation. They came here to be free from tyranny and free to practice their religion in the way they wanted to. It was the unrestricted pursuit of those ideals that lead to our greatness.

They didn’t need someone to tell them what they had to learn. They learned what they needed to be successful. We need to be instilling that same passion for learning into our children instead of scaring them with some arbitrary test that they have to take based on information that some committee decided was important.

We also need to take a bottom up approach. We need to stop telling teachers exactly what and how they need to teach, and then hanging the children’s performance on a standardized test over their head. We need to let them use their passion for educating children to do just that. Have you ever heard some 50 year old talk about a certain influential test they had when they were in school? Now, how about someone with tears in their eyes talking about that special teacher that made all the difference in their lives?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but what I do know, is that more of, or a revised version of, what we already have is not going to work.

photo credit: lewisr1