December 23, 2013

This will be my final blog of 2013 and, therefore, it seems fitting to reflect one more time on the educational differences between testing and the SOLs held in the one hand while the other hand holds out the promises of questioning and learning.

The “Great Books of the Western World” and its companion collection, “The Great Ideas Today,” were published more than a half-century ago. Their introduction was designed to stimulate thinking and their publication was an attempt to bring the best of education to people everywhere.

Unfortunately, our public education system has slid backward from that earlier promise. It 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 public education’s 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 mental stimulation encountered in works similar to “The Great Books” and “The Great Ideas” 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. Our future dims.

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

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

Well, it’s worth paying attention to your 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 to take another test.

Children need to learn to 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.”

Enjoy the holidays. Happy New Year, Everybody! More on Monday, January 6, 2014.

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning

www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Mondays & Wednesdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com