Friday, January 02, 2009

Opposing view: Too much 'reform' by Alfie Kohn
> Opposing view: Too much 'reform'
> USA Today December 18, 2008
> By Alfie Kohn
> Accountability movement turns schools into test-prep factories.
> Our children can't take much more education "reform." Oddly, that
> word has come to signify a continuation, or intensification, of the
> current disastrous approach exemplified by the No Child Left Behind
> act. Our schools — and particularly those in the inner city — are
> being turned into test-prep factories. The last thing we need is more
> of the same.
> "Reformers"— many with the sensibility of corporate managers rather
> than educators — apparently think the way to make change is to bribe
> or threaten teachers and students. They assume that anything harder
> (more "rigorous") must be better. And they talk about "achievement"
> and "world-class standards" when all they mean are higher scores on
> fill-in-the-bubble exams.
> NCLB has provided no new information about which schools need help,
> nor has it provided that help. Instead — in the name of
> "accountability" — it has created pressure to ratchet up the least
> valuable forms of instruction. Alarmingly, proponents would apply
> similarly simplistic and heavy-handed tactics to preschools and
> universities, too.
> Consider some alternative principles that might guide the Obama
> administration:
> • Supporting schools doesn't mean pretending they can solve deeper
> social problems such as racism and poverty.
> • Equitable resources and opportunities must precede demands for
> equal results.
> • All children, regardless of race or class, should have the chance
> to think deeply about questions that matter, fall in love with books,
> understand ideas from the inside out, and learn through projects of
> their own design — rather than just practicing skills and memorizing
> facts on cue.
> • Teaching and learning ought to be assessed based on students'
> success with real classroom tasks, not with one-shot,
> one-size-fits-all multiple-choice tests.
> • Children (and learning) have intrinsic value; they're not just
> means to economic ends, such as boosting the "competitiveness" of U.S.
> corporations.
> • Every student should be encouraged to think critically (not just
> obey authority) and to collaborate (not succeed at the expense of
> others).
> Now that would be school reform worth celebrating.
> Alfie Kohn's 11 books include The Schools Our Children Deserve, The
> Case Against Standardized Testing and The Homework Myth.

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