What’s it all about?
Our educational system is all about raising standards. This almost universally means pushing academic goals on younger and younger students. It also means adding more tests to measure whether or not our kids can be pushed to meet those new higher standards.
Some of the new standards require kids to perform at a level that is greater than typical cognitive development for their age range. No matter, it is good for business to push higher standards and it is good for politicians as well.
We insist that all kids learn intermediate algebra. Let’s just forget the fact that few will ever use what they have learned again. We gorge on math and diet on social studies. We have all but forgotten character in our students, our studies and in our national conversations. Joseph Gauld, founder of the Hyde Schools, recently received the Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education. The award recognizes an educator’s commitment to teaching character.
The academic content we teach our kids may be gone by the end of the day or the school year. It may do them no good throughout their lives. Yet good character will stand by them throughout their lives. Citizens of good character will enhance our nation. Almost all of our people carry around pocket computers known as mobile phones. But seldom use the fact-checking potential they give us. We accept what we are told no matter how preposterous. Parents defend their children who have bullied others instead of seeking guidance as to how they can rectify this terrible behavior. We do not value character so it is little surprise that there is so little of it. Character development is the whole of what we should be doing in our schools. Academic skills are a subset of that.
What’s it all about? Unfortunately, schools have become places to navigate so we can get a job or into the college we want. We have all but forgotten Aristotle’s words, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Until we believe this all the rising test scores will do nothing to give value to a high school diploma.