Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don't Be a Whina and Compare Us to China!

After leaving a comment on Dr. Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant referencing Jeff Utecht's blog The Thinking Stick I decided to write my own post on response. Below is my comment that I left.

I think the point is moot. Does it really matter what we are doing in comparison to other schools in other countries? The conversation that needs to take place is, "What is the purpose of our schools?" In the United States today, nobody can answer that question, because we as a society have not decided. We cannot expect our schools to direct our students toward a goal we have not set.

I have heard some say the purpose of education is to get kids ready for the marketplace. Others say it is to create well rounded individuals. We all espouse the goal of creating lifelong learners. Which is it? Are there better goals for education than these?

There have been many books, many ideas floating through the edublogosphere lately, The Wisdom of Crowds, A Whole New Mind, The World is Flat, but they haven't answered the question either. They are more likely to confuse it. We need to work harder in math and science because we aren't producing enough engineers. We need to develop creativity if we are to compete. This is all wonderful, thought provoking stuff, but it still doesn't answer the question.

Now No Child Left Behind has focused my school and many others to work towards a test that measures memorization instead of application. Is this the goal our schools should strive for? Does this represent the wisdom of the educational crowd?

I love the mental stimulation of the conversations we have on the internet, but I don't think any of them compares in importance to answering the simple question of, "What is the purpose of our school?"

I would love to read your comments on my take.


Jeff Utecht said...

"What is the purpose of our school?" and who's job is it to answer this questions? According to the Constitution (as I understand it) education is left up to State Government. They are the ones that decide what education should be....right? Or is it the school community? The principal? Or the classroom teacher?

You are right...it is the question we need to be asking...but who's job is it to answer it? And who would we (teachers) listen too?

My post was not meant to comapre China and the US but rather, from my experience look at the way in which each country is moving in their education system....or so it seems. The US is getting more drill and Kill test based and China is interested in being more thinking and knowledge based. Just my observations.

Wm Chamberlain said...

I agree with you as well on both counts. The one thing I have learned about teachers is we are individuals that can't agree on much of anything. I also think you are right about the drill and kill and could give tons of examples from my school district.

Thanks for the follow up.