More Children Left Behind
Another article in The Economist got me thinking this week. Seems the UK is finding that its young students are not reading as much as they used to. This is not really big news and is an international trend. What was interesting was that in “1997 the government introduced a national literacy strategy” to address this problem. The “rigidly-structured daily one-hour lesson” seems to have actually turned kids off of books (do tell). Students asked why it was good to be able to read answered that it would help them do better on tests, not that reading was enjoyable. This seems to me to be exactly where we are headed with the emphasis in NCLB on standardized testing in reading and math (and soon science, which makes me most nervous). Programs emphasizing mechanics will drain critical literacy skills of inherent richness and leave students even further behind and even less interested in school. I can think of nothing more likely to reduce enjoyment of reading than turning it into a highly-structured mechanical activity. Is the goal of education to create good factory line workers (a job that is increasingly disspearing), or to produce people with intellectual curiosity and deep love of learning? Obvious answer, but do we really think that creating highly structured (read as teacher proof) curricula is a way to help people learn? Seems so, as long as the measure of learning is how well you do on a standardized exam — and hey, there are lots of those in life, so at least we are preparing them for that.