Sunday, April 03, 2011

Kids Rule

Author Susan Engle recently wrote a column for the New York Times that she begins with the following observations: 
In a speech last week, President Obama said it was unacceptable that “as many as a quarter of American students are not finishing high school.” But our current educational approach doesn’t just fail to prepare teenagers for graduation or for college academics; it fails to prepare them, in a profound way, for adult life.
We want young people to become independent and capable, yet we structure their days to the minute and give them few opportunities to do anything but answer multiple-choice questions, follow instructions and memorize information. 
Sadly, armies of education "reformers" from across our country's ever-narrowing political spectrum (middle-right to far-right on education issues) fail to see the futility of anti-intellectual approaches to teaching. The high-stakes testing industry generates mediocrity and offers a remedy: more high-stakes testing.

Engle's essay -- Let Kids Rule the School -- describes an experiment in which eight public-school students in western Massachusetts were enabled to develop their own curriculum, in which their learning was directed toward questions. They had to figure out how to direct that learning, guided by teachers and advisors, but not spoon-fed answers.

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