MORE THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
Various attempts to reform and streamline the education system through Standardized Testing have been around for a long time. Several Initiatives, such as “No Child Left Behind” in the USA and Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) imposed on K-12 teachers in BC appear to be good in theory but, in reality, only pave the road to “hell” in the system with good intentions, as they breed the unhealthy competition among teachers and schools and encourage parents who can afford private tutors to seek better choices for their children.
As for the school where I am teaching, standardized tests have not produced either uniform student levels or better results in their learning. In fact, I think the new system has somewhat lowered the expectations for the students and I have observed that the quality of the students’ preparation has been getting worse and worse over the last 6 months.
The following videos and articles have more points of view.
In the following radio program, American teacher and writer, John Taylor Gatto, talks about the school system in the USA (1991). While the subject here is a little different, his criticism is still poignant:
“Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant…Schools don’t really teach anything except … how to obey orders. Schools are designed to be the instruments of scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through an application of formulae human beings whose behavior could be predicted and controlled… The only successful people in our national order are independent, self-reliant, confident, and individualistic. Well-schooled people are irrelevant…As human beings they are useless to others and useless to themselves.
John Taylor Gatto: Part 1. On the Differences between Schooling and Education
In the featured video, Sulibreezy (Suli Breaks) seems to feel in a similar way:
Why I Hate School But Love Education||Spoken Word (Suli Breaks)
For yet another point of view, check out this blog: http://hoprea.wordpress.com/some-texts/
by Henrick Oprea, an ESL teacher from Brazil, telling a fascinating parable called “Saber-Tooth Curriculum” on the values of traditional education.
How about you?
- What are your views on the purposes of education?
- How do you see the role of English teachers, and in particular, the role of ESL teachers in preparing our students for their future?
- Do we just provide the training for specific skills or the education for the real world?
- Are we merely ESL instructors or educators who are raising young individuals by socializing them into our culture and helping them to learn to think for themselves?
- How can a Standardized Curriculum reflect the constantly changing demands for the skills and the values of higher order thinking?
Please send in your comments.
THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
ILSC has always been known as a highly creative and innovative cohort of teachers who strive to make their classes relevant and student-centered.
However, recently, with the changes in the Corporate Management and the Administration, there have been sweeping changes in several programs, particularly, Academic Preparation, towards formal, top-down managerial style, which focuses on standardized testing and testing in general as nearly the solely way of assessment of students’ work. The Administration has been trying to defend these changes by claiming that the new Assessment Tool provides more consistency for the teachers and ensures more uniformity among the students’ “levels,” especially for the students wishing to transfer to the University Pathway program. Although some teachers agree that, in theory, using one Standardized Test gives them more consistency, the majority believe that, in practice, this way of assessment is irrelevant and causes them to “teach to the test.” This move continues to cause the teachers’ indignation because it stifles their creativity and forbids much of the flexibility with the content and approach for the sake of one test. In the system like this, students are expected to absorb various facts about the language like sponges, and, within a little over three weeks, regurgitate them on one uniform test while demonstrating uniform improvement in their skills, akin robots. The students’ existing needs and abilities, their increasingly varying learning styles, the connections between teachers and students, and any other human factor are completely ignored, while the teachers are still expected to inspire and motivate, to instill the love of the language in the students, and to prepare the students for the real world. What kinds of Standardized Tests await them in the future?
STANDARDIZED VS STUDENT CENTRED CURRICULUM : SURVEY
I have prepared the survey concerning the above issues and have already sent it to eight teachers. Five teachers, mostly from ILSC, have responded with very poignant comments and useful suggestions. Some results are seen in the following screenshots:
Want to participate? You are strongly encouraged!
Click on the link to access the survey:
The new results will be published here.
NEXT: MORE THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM