Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Every Child Left Behind!

The goal of the "No Child Left Behind" program is to ensure that all children going through the education system get a good and more standardized education. Putting standardized and good education in the same sentence, to me, is an oxymoron. Standardized testing, for the most part, means multiple choice. This type of testing does not give room for analysis of information, only it's regurgitation. With standardization come streamlining, and that means the teachers do not have the chance for individualism and creativity. Without these key ingredients, students will not only not want to learn, but will not remember what they have.

One prime example I would like to bring up, is hand writing and language. Students are no longer taught cursive writing in school. This type of writing is a window into a more creative form of writing. At the very least it allows the student to developed a more personalized, and perhaps better, handwriting. As a child who learned to write before going to school, I know how this can negatively effect handwriting skills. The teaching of cursive writing gives a second look at those skills at a later age. I think that by skipping over this key part of a child's education, we will not only allow a part of our culture to die, but allow the downgrading of handwriting and even writing etiquette.

I have already mentioned that with standardized testing, we loose the testing of our children's ability to analyze. As a TA at a university, I saw first hand the negative effects of the over use of multiple choice style testing. Writing and indeed thinking skills have gone out the window. What is worse, is that even though we have lowered the expectations in the high school classroom, it doesn't stop there. Having encouraged every child to go to college, and even convinced them that it is their right to do so, we now are feeling pressure to lower the standards there as well. With so many holders of bachelor's degrees, the worth of such an achievement has plummeted. On top of that degradation by the sheer force of numbers, we add to it the "dumbing down" of the curriculum. I do not like to discriminate people who are less fortunate and may have special needs, however, there is a place within conventional grade school level education to make allowances and special privileges to ensure their ability to learn and inevitably function in society. What I do not believe in, is that we need to make special allowances in order that they not only can go to college (and probably at a lower cost), but are allowed to graduate only due to special allowances and exceptions.

With each generation, the educational standards seem to be lowered further and further until every child will be left behind. The whole country will have left real education behind.

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