Thursday, April 10, 2008

Education That Matters

No Child left behind stands as one of the few domestic achievements of the Bush administration. Achievement is a debatable term to use as it relates to the legislation. Many educators feel the law is a mistake; they feel it serves only to raise standardized test scores and does little to actually improve the state of education on either the macro or micro level.

I have a different issue with No Child Left behind. I don't object to it because of operational issues. I object to it because even if it were to operate exactly as planned and achieve one hundred percent of its stated goal, it will not address the real needs of the 21st century and beyond.

Sustainability will be the paramount issue of the 21st century. Not just environmental friendliness which is critical, but creating sustainable populations and markets, sustainable transportation systems, and sustainable competitive economic opportunities. The essential truth to all sustainability is that it takes complex problem-solving skills. Not simply the ability to read and write, but the ability to digest information from multiple sources and think logically and chronologically about issues. It is not even enough for someone to invent a better hydrogen fuel cell. Teams need to implement a broad distribution system, markets need to be created to value and distribute it. It needs to become part of the ecosystem of our lives. It's not enough to design an environmentally friendly skyscraper. We need architects that can design and rebuild communities with sustenance at the core. We need economists and capitalists who analyze the entirety of the economy to put funding into projects that can change the world.

In short the problems of tomorrow are not simply going to be solved by people that can read, add and subtract. They are going to be solved by people who can think critically, in a multiple-discipline way.

America is losing is competitive advantage in the world by not training its young people to start thinking this way.

4 comments:

Michael said...

NCLB has achieved nothing but failure. Drill and kill testing does nothing to stimulate well rounded students. At the same time, demanding accountability of the school system without providing the means to achieve it is setting up to fail. Not to mention, the policy has gone out of its way to make teachers - already our most underappreciated national resource - feel even more powerless. NCLB is a national failure and policy at its most shameful.

Lauren OT said...

NCLB is an odd thing, because it is exactly titled in opposition with what it creates; all it does is leave everyone behind, and furthermore buried, with the problems it creates. It is a policy that sets up children to fail; instead of giving a child hand-tailored, exactly what they need, it makes them conform, when they are already outside of the norms, to some ideal that was set up by a committee of people who have been out of the classrooms and the educational system and in administration far too long. A child, especially ones with special needs, has enough to overcome, without making some policy that tells them they have to.

Anonymous said...

No Child Left Behind has very good intentions. What is seeks to do is test the basic content knowledge that students are so desperately lacking. As James stated in his article "we need critical thinking". Unfortunately James you cannot think critically about building a skyscraper if you don't know the basic math necessary to construct it. Sure, NCLB has had some problems, and it might very well be a Republican initiative for school voucher system, but the idea behind it is educationally sound. We have to hold the touchy feely, free minded educational system to some sort of standards. Speaking as an individual in the educational field, cooperative learning and projects are only part of the pedagogical spectrum. Students need direct instruction, drill and practice, and summative assessments, which NCLB mandates. Educational hotshots are already seeing that NCLB needs to be tweaked, but to throw it away and say zero accountability is just reckless. And this push to enforce standards in education by the government is not a new concept. Hello Sputnik! Since the Cold War, America has been fighting to keep up with the test of the world. The truth in the matter is not the flaws of the Federal NCLB law, it the attitude that permeats this american culture whereby education takes a back seat to every other thing. The attitude towards education in this country is worse than ever. Maybe the focus should be on the homefront where facebook and xbox dominate nighttime activities where homework and study should be the priority. Don't be so quick to criticize the administration James for trying to correct an educational system gone wild.

KevoUSAF said...

NCLB was flawed. It was right in its goals, but failed in its execution and materials given to the students, teachers, and parents. It was not a race to the top. It was like all of America is: Rich get richer, poor get poorer.