Sunday, March 11, 2012

Education Has Lost Its One, True Purpose

by S. Paul Forrest

If you missed the discussion on Monday, 03-12-2012 on Breaking Taboo, 7:00 PM EST - you can listen to it HERE

Testing is a part of every student’s life from athletics to scholastics.  In the latter case, children and young adults are tested to determine their performance and retention of course information.  These tests are necessary to gauge in what area a student needs work in order to enhance their education.   To ensure that the students are achieving the desired level of minimum educationn, in 2001, No Child Left Behind was passed into Law requiring that schools test students in public schools. In America’s educational system today though, the testing process has taken a turn for the worse, turning it into a performance-based institution rather than one which is meant to stimulate intellectual prowess.  This attempt to reform education seemed harmless enough at first but when the reality of its implications began to set in, many quickly realized how errant a policy it was.

As Anton Batey has stated, “At first glance, the concept of standardized tests seems reasonable. Children should be tested, and the tests are clear indicators either of how intelligent they are, or of how much the school is teaching them. But what is the school "teaching" them, exactly? The answer is simple but unfortunate: They're teaching them how to take the test.” Testing is important but when school administrators and teachers are given the sole task of ensuring their students perform well else risk losing Federal funding or even, their jobs, it only opens the door to fraudulent recording of scores, purposefully omitting “special needs” students and dismissing all extracurricular efforts only to appear as successful in their educational methodology.  

Part of the issue with this testing method is in it’s determination of “how intelligent a child is”.  When the child’s results, which may be recorded as poor; directly attributable to their low performing school, are posted publicly as required under this Law, the affects on a child’s confidence and future potential, can be extremely destructive. But this is not the only test that can be detrimental in this manner.  Intelligence, personality and career testing all attempt to assist young people in finding their place in our society but these measurements may also negatively affect their self-image. While a child may be incredibly artistic they could fail in reading or mathematics or be assigned a low I.Q. and as determined by these tests, could very well be “left behind” as a failure in their own minds, taking from them any hope for success. 

The question becomes then; is teaching our children to be performers as opposed to thinkers detrimental and is this approach diminishing the true purpose of education; that of empowerment.  By using our children as gauges as opposed to encouraging free thinking, future leaders, we are doing more harm than good to not only their futures but our collective society’s. What we all should be asking ourselves is:  Are we empowering our children and feeding their potential, inner genii or are we handicapping them in an inane effort to simply adhere to an errant, short term philosophy; doing more harm to them than good?  

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