Thoughts About Summer Reading Part 8: Who’s Right?

I’d be the first to admit that I am not a great teacher.  Sure, I strive for excellence, but I feel as though I have plenty of room for improvement.  Now, some of my colleagues would disagree and say that I am one of Cardigan’s best teachers.  So, am I great or not?  Who’s right?  Can there be more than one right answer?

According to the book World Class Learners, the author explains how despite having some of the best global test scores and being praised by the American media for having a successfully rigorous educatrional system, China views their educational institution as defunct and in need of an overhaul.  They see kids who have very low self-esteem and lack creativity.  Sure, they may know how to take a test, but at the end of the day, will taking a test make China a better, more creative country?  In the eyes of the Chinese, America has it all figured out.  They allow their students to play and explore.  They don’t foster a sense of more work=better test scores.  According to China, America has the best educational system that cultivates entrepreneurial minds like Steve Jobs.  However, America , like China, sees its own system as broken.  So, who’s right?  

Back in the 1980s, there was a cartoon called the Wuzzles.  Disney created it, of course, as they own the world.  Wuzzles were a combination of two or more animals in one.  There was Elaroo who was part elephant and part kangaroo.  Like the Wuzzles, perhaps the best solution to the educational conundrum is a combination of the good parts of both systems and maybe even some other parts from other countries.  Clearly, teaching to a high-stakes test is not the answer, but the rigor involved can be a positive quality.  How can we do that in a way that also fosters creativity and individuality?  A nationalized curriculum will not do the trick.  So, then what?  What about more broad standards that can be greatly interpretted by schools around the world.  Not a prescription of how to educate students but rather an outline map.  The individual schools and teachers get to put the states, cities, and countries where they want.  Perhaps that might work.  At this point, change is what is needed.  We need to try something new or else we’re going to lose even more students to the factory model of education.


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