Friday, June 12, 2015

Learning is not necessarily what you know but how you think

In the midst of movement to industrialize public education, there was a voice of reason and sanity, who like those same voices today that are drowned out by politicians and pseudo-reformers, was pretty much ignored. However, his message rings through in truth one hundred and twenty years later.

Education does not consist in knowing certain definite things, as Greek, Latin, or mathematics, but in that power and versatility of thought and emotion which elevate life into truth and virtue, and which may come from any form of true and deep experience which the individual has with the world about him. (p.39)

Today's reformers are stuck in a world of test-prep and measuring learning strictly based on what one knows versus how one thinks. Measuring rote knowledge is far simpler and much more profitable in a world of paper and online assessments. And on top of it, measuring rote knowledge instead of evaluating learning holistically provides an opportunity to point blame at the teacher.

Contact with the world, as well as the tuition of the school, produces wealth of experience and ripe wisdom. The individual's whole environment educates him; and the teacher, being but a small part of this, must not be accredited nor charged with the whole result. (p.39 continued)

Twelve decades ago, academic leaders knew that the school and the teacher are but a small part of the education of a child and that whether or not that child succeeded in reaching a desired level of learning could not be solely the teacher's fault. Today, the reformists prefer to place the full blame on teachers and the schools they labor in, despite the overwhelming evidence that the home and community, complicit with socio-economic status, English language deficiencies, disabilities and crime, have an often greater impact on whether the child learns or not; all factors that cannot be accurately measured by achievement tests.

Tompkins, Arnold, PhD. The Philosophy of School Management. Ginn and Company, Boston. 1895