Is This Wise?
There is a great fable about an imagined animal school which decides to adopt the design structure of schools for humans. Humans have greater thinking and learning power than animals, right? Someone erroneously believes they can improve the performance of ALL animals by modeling animal schools after a learning institution for people. But is this wise?
In this new animal school, rather than the teacher being satisfied with the beaver’s ability to chop down trees and build dams, the teacher also insists the beaver learn to fly. The results of the beaver’s efforts to fly are, of course, frustrating and even ludicrous. Facing such a failure the beaver is no longer even proud of his innate ability to build dams better than any other animal.
What Are We Doing?
Take a discerning look at our schools. Isn’t that too close to what we really do? Instead of identifying and capitalizing on a student’s intrinsic talents, we reduce the time he spends in a pursuit in which he excels and simultaneously increase the amount of time he spends being tutored in a skill for which he has minimal talent. Think for a moment about this.
In a culture in which we are being driven by only test scores, we remove a student from his favorite class to tutor him/her for a class in which s/he is failing. Did it work for the beaver? What a scary philosophy this becomes when you consider the implications not just for individuals, but also for our country.
Why do we put all our efforts into forcing students to remediate to obtain mere passing scores in a subject area in which they are weak? Why not use those same efforts to encourage and push them in an area of their brilliance? What our country really needs is people functioning at the top of their form in the areas in which they excel. Ignite the flame in the area of their strengths and watch them catapult forward. If and when we finally do that, our entire nation will benefit.
Great teachers know this. They search and search until they discover and reveal a student’s talent. They frequently are the first to reveal that talent to the student. They give voice to it, encourage it and often push the student to heights they didn’t believe they could ever achieve.
I’m not the national Secretary of Education, but I think one of the things we need to be doing in every school district in America, is identifying individual student’s areas of brilliance and finding ways to encourage, enhance and grow that talent. Flying beavers are not the answer.
Want to help stop test score obsession? Please share this blog post with someone.
TEACH…To Change Lives
Available autographed or in large quantities from the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also available at Amazon.com