Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Uh, Miss, is that on the test?" - The Death of "Why?"


From The Death of "Why?": The Decline of Questioning and the Future of Democracy by Andrea Batista Schlesinger (Kindle Edition)

Our schools send the message to children that the answer is all that counts.  We test students to death, conveying the idea that correctly filling in the bubbles is the same as learning. Our classrooms become dedicated to the cause of test preparation, as science and its guiding philosophy - that we must discover, ask questions, accumulate evidence, make determinations - become optional.

This addiction to answers affects our democracy, too. We have the mistaken belief that even the most pressing challenges facing our country...are problems to be "fixed" once and for all, if only we can find the right solution and the right person to implement them.

Could this be why our political leaders in Washington, DC, and state capitols can't work out solutions to some of our biggest problems? Are they too busy "filling in the bubbles" instead of spending time working together to ask the critical questions, explore the evidence, and discover new solutions? Is their narrow focus only on a pre-determined solution, the so-called "right answer?" Have we finally created a culture that only values the "correct result?"

If we continue the emphasis on bubble-like testing, are we doomed?  Is it too late to change?  Are any of these questions on the test?