What might be the cause of the misuse or misinterpretation of research about education recently brought to light by Alfie Kohn in his January 28th article “Do tests really help students learn or was a new study misreported?” Could this be evidence of what is being learned or not learned in the educational system? Might the education of those—likely with good grades—who report about the problems of the educational system reflect the effects of a system in need of fundamental change? That is, the use of reductionism and correspondingly the many shortsighted answers offered by so many is further evidence of what’s wrong with the educational system.
In other words, could it be that we are training people to remember things for the test that is later forgotten and that we aren’t facilitating the development of people and the unfolding of potential? So no matter how much we’ve managed to cram into student’s short-term memory and no matter what the measures and rankings show, we are left with individuals who haven’t developed their uniquely human capabilities, such as an inquiring mind and a critically thinking mind.
With so much attention to testable/measurable results and the rating and ranking for accountability, seemingly we’ve turned the focus of attention away from meaningful learning. When learning ceases to be meaningful, it ceases to be a joy and inevitably learning then ceases!
While all children enter the educational system with an inherent thirst for learning, sadly most leave the system with it squelched. Since learning is essential to the viability of humankind, when we suppress the inherent thirst for learning, we effectually contribute to our very own dissolution, not our evolution. Clearly we need to get the re-design right and thus we should not allow anyone lacking the very thinking the educational system must develop to be the architect of its re-design. As Einstein might remind us, we can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking that was used in creating them.