Public education has morphed from a “culture of learning” into a “culture of testing.” And, that is not a good thing.

Regurgitation of facts and information has become the almost-exclusionary emphasis. The value of our public schools is judged almost exclusively by standardized test scores.

And, our children lose.

Education, rightfully, should be about thinking and questioning. It’s the questions that should be sought and not just the answers. It’s the great ideas encountered in The Great Books that should challenge our young people to ponder (and, even challenge) the thinking of the wisely observant.

Premises need to be questioned before acceptance. And, acceptance needs not be a group reaction. Society loses when we all begin to think alike.

Too many of us embrace testing because we are entranced with objectivity – or, at least, we’re entranced by the appearance of it.

“We are obsessed with tests,” writes Professor Ron Solorzano at Occidental University.

“Merely having a number associated with something makes it sound worthwhile, even if the number isn’t all that valid,” writes Dean Robert J. Sternberg at Tufts University. “The problem is not the tests themselves. (The problem is) they are assigned a value way beyond what they actually have. It has become like a cult.”

What can you and I, as parents, do about this loss of “a culture of learning?”

Well, it’s worth paying attention to our children when they come home from school. Are they asking lots of questions about the subjects they encountered in school that day or are they absorbed in the memorization process as they get ready for their next school day? If you find that their school is failing them, pick up the slack yourself. Discuss many of the questions examined in The Great Books. You both will benefit from reading or re-reading the great thinkers of our civilization.

Ask the questions. That’s the key. The answers are the easy part.

Knowing the “Whats” and “Wheres” is not always better than knowing the “Hows” and “Whys.”

More on Friday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning