To the Editor:
I found Marc Prensky’s Commentary “The Goal of Education Is Becoming,” very insightful.
As a new principal, my challenge has been to increase student achievement, yet not lose sight that the whole child is important. Yes, I want my students to have a strong grasp of the academics that bring them to school; however, I know the school’s role is so much more than that. Schools are charged with partnering with parents to make sure that our students “become” responsible and contributing citizens. They need to understand their worth, and the role they will need to play to move the future forward in a positive direction.
I have had many conversations with my teachers in which they express their frustration in moving from one assessment to the next. Sometimes I think we have so much data, and yet we are not quite sure what to do with it all.
My teachers do not feel able to stop and show students the beauty of learning while enjoying the moment of being a child, whether that is in elementary, middle, or high school. Every milestone in a student’s life should be about discovery, to include learning to work with others, appreciating differences, and overall development of character.
In our testing-focused era of education, the focus is more on a student’s level and not whether he or she is becoming a well-rounded individual.
As an educator, I most certainly understand the purpose of standardized tests, grading, accountability, and standards. I just think they have been taken to an extreme. As I walk the halls of my school visiting classrooms, I know it will be more important, as Mr. Prensky states, that our students are “creative and effective thinkers, communicators, and doers.” That, after all, is what our society needs more and more of.
Minneola Elementary Charter School
A version of this article appeared in the June 04, 2014 edition of Education Week as Student Milestones Should Be About Discovery, Not Tests