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Re-Inventing Our Classrooms? PDF Print E-mail

I want to apologize in advance for the length of this post, but it’s something I feel strongly about, and it’s something we need to really think about.

I was looking back to Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2005.” It’s a great article, filled with amazing inventions in a wide range of fields, from the $3 Lifestraw to the iUnit to the Hybrid Assistive Limb. To see the other inventions, follow these links

These inventions really blew my mind - where do people come up with these things?

  • Then I had a disheartening thought: many of those inventions were not created by Americans.
  • Then I had another disheartening thought: how did these people become so creative and proficient in their fields at the same time?
  • Then I had an even more sobering thought: Where is creativity and mastery of subject taught? Where did they learn to do this?

[ begin rant ]

Certainly not with high-stakes standardized tests. No amount of memorization of Anaphase, Metaphase, Prophase, and Telephase will help me create a Bioimplantable Device. First, I would not really know how cell division works, just how to identify a phase. Second, I would not have practiced applying that knowledge in any practical way. Third, I would not have been given opportunities to dream, to experiment, to push limits, or to fail. See, all of those are critical in the creative process. Creativity is being slowly crushed under the weight of NCLB, scripted teaching programs, and “data driven” reforms that focus only on one thing: raising test scores. Anyone can make data do what they want.

Fair Test’s president, Monty Neil says in this article, “Teaching to the test tends to produce inflated results - the equivalent of holding a match to a thermostat", added Neil. "But it doesn’t work in the long run because, to use another metaphor, it’s like eating a candy bar before a race; you get a quick boost of energy and it may help you. But the conclusion that you should live on a diet of candy bars does not work very well. And that’s what teaching to the test is. It’s a diet of candy bars. It’s educational malnourishment."

I was privileged to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak at the T&L Conference in Denver, CO last year. He wrote a book: “Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative” where he deals with this very issue of how we have systematically destroyed the #1 most valued skill in the job market today: creativity. You should check this book out. Scroll down and read the reviews - they are spot on.  Or watch this video:



We are undermining our children’s creativity and problem-solving skills by teaching to the test. We are encouraging only one definition of intelligence - the memorization kind. Our world today demands brilliance and demands creative solutions. If we don’t produce kids that can do that, other countries will.

On flip side, years of filling in bubbles will prepare our kids for the arduous task of filing unempoyment forms.

[ / end rant ]