“...continuing from my earlier post
I want my students to remember not the facts of a particular story, but the ideas that an author wanted to explore. I want them to take these ideas and apply them to new situations they encounter in their lives. I want them to have the confidence and the skills to work out how to take what they learned in school and transform it to meet situations that I can't even begin to predict.
And as for tests like the FCAT (Florida's graduation test) or the GHSGT (Georgia's version), the results simply say whether the student has met the minimum skills for the courses they've taken. Scores have nothing to do with measuring actual learning, whether a student is ready for the "real world," or whether they will experience success in life. Take them for what they are and then use other methods of observation to determine the rest. And no, these other methods are not easy to quantify into statistical data or into "objective" statistics. And yes, they are expensive and time consuming. The question is whether we as a country are willing to invest the monetary and emotional capital into our future.”
“I don't want to engage in name calling or finger pointing. Education in this country is facing serious problems--starting with what we think the purpose of school is. Some say it's to be prepared for the real world, others say to go to college, others say the ability to learn independently in new situations, others say the skills to get a job, and on and on. Until we know this and can quantify what that means to us, we'll be spinning our wheels. The debate on testing is a product of this confusion.
Good standardized tests assess skills (interpretation, comprehension, deduction, induction, analysis, synthesis, etc) not content (noun, ribosome, the war of 1812). Not all standardized tests are good ones; I would even go so far as to say that very few of the standardized tests I've seen as a high school teacher are good. But whether they're the best or the worst of them, tests can only capture a portion of what education is supposed to do. Tests should only be one measure of a student's success--not the only measurement.
For myself, I teach with the philosophy that high school is meant to be broad based with classes in the arts, the humanities, and the sciences. It is meant to be a survey of different ways of looking at and interacting with the world--different ways of knowing if you will. I want my students to remember not the facts of a particular story, but the ideas”
“Let me speak as an English teacher at the high school level. It's true--95% of the specific math equations from Algebra 2 (or whichever math class you subbed in) will probably never be used again; just like 95% of the texts that students read in English class will never come up again in their life. What's important is that these disciplines teach ways of thought. Math teaches a systematic, deductive way of thinking whereas English teaches an inductive way of thinking. Does a student of mine need to know why Gatsby never had a chance with Daisy? Yes, in the short term for a test over the novel. In the long term, though, he should take away the idea that--fairly or unfairly--social class matters in America. (just as a reminder: Gatsby gets shut out because he's new money from West Egg and not old money from East Egg).
High school is meant to be broad based with classes in the arts, the humanities, and the sciences because they all teach different ways of looking at the world. Teachers, at least those in my circle of acquaintance, know that specific subject matter will be forgotten but the skills of interpretation, analysis, deduction, induction, and synthesis will help our students in the long run adn apply to their future career--no matter whether it's manager, line worker, or doctor.”