No Child Left Behind From a Different Perspective
As a retired teacher with over 50 years of teaching in the state of Washington, I have a big concern about the current path being taken by our school systems. Our country has departed from our pioneers in education: such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Abraham Maslow. Friedrich Froebel's philosophy was that humans are creative beings. These educators provided an innovative process producing real education for pupils. Educators should be responsible for teaching students that learning is limitless. They must become cognizant of their own abilities and choose what works for them.
I learned in my college statistics class that a test score is data for that time and day in that one moment of a person's life. I was told it is not an indication of intelligence or a realistic way to base a person's success. The only test should be to see if a person increases his or her own talents from previous testing.
Mass testing only creates stressful competition for the students. It is also very stressful for teachers because they must drop their present curriculum for several weeks, while they prepare their students for required testing. Many students have learning disabilities: dyslexia, testing anxiety, or cannot express themselves in a test format. The current process destroys self esteem and reaches dangerous levels when the test is taken repeatedly. Students are not failures; however this process leads them to believe this false opinion of themselves.
Is it realistic to judge only left-brain skills on tests of a young student, still learning and immature? A balance needs to return in the form of right-brain activities such as: music in all its forms, art, drama, and other courses that encourage self-expression. When students are allowed to express themselves in their school experiences, drugs and violence are not used as cries for help. We need to celebrate our children and all of their talents and skills.
In my state of Washington, the WASL is responsible for narrowing the diversity in students rather than promoting growth and wisdom. The current focus allows that only those that pass the test are successful. In educating students this is not realistic. First, it forces everyone's thinking through the same hole; students become rubber stamp followers. In addition, when government forces students to learn only certain things in certain ways, their freedom to discover new inspired solutions is stifled. Aren't we killing our children's' creativity? The current testing process creates a cheap labor force for factories and other repetitive types of jobs. Is this what we want for out future?
NCLB was intended to solve some of our educational problems. Instead it has created new problems and exacerbated some that already existed. Students are easily lead so the next generation of leaders is silenced. There is no questioning of leadership or government and challenging the status quo is discouraged.
Another way to curtail free thinking is by drugging students. No matter what the medical diagnosis, drugs create toxic thinking and only address symptoms. Sadly, the more brilliant students, who unfortunately are causing disturbances with their free thinking challenges of what they are being taught, are being suppressed by medication. We must find another way to address teaching these brilliant students. We need to give them enough freedom to find answers to their questions and support their learning progress.
I hope that education will begin to teach life as an experience to be lived with imagination and originality. Knowing yourself and being able to express it, indicates an educated person. "To Thine Own Self Be True", is the best education we can teach.