The mass public, however you call it [Nietzsche’s herd, Lawrence’s mass-minds or others cattle and sheeple, unfortunately under whose label we almost all fall], wants easy answers, simplicity and no complications. This is why we have the present wave of educational testing and measurement systems in place. They are easy, simple, and actually quite complicated, intricate and deceiving, but the first components, the base numbers [which can be squeezed, pre-packed, and sold to the public with incredible speed and ease] sell themselves. We believe in the numbers and the surveys [ha, the US is survey and survey evidence crazy, more so tan any other nation, but our fascination is rubbing off].
Even when we compare our education system or supposed learning to other nations, these numbers are INSANE and STUPID! No two nations give the same tests, no two nations have the same standards, and no two nations have the same needs and goals in education [at least not yet]. No matter how you slice them, these numbers simply do not mesh. It is like comparing the Rocky Mountains to the Himalayas, the Alps to the Appalachians… They don’t match up. All are mountains, but entirely different in almost all respects. However, we use these numbers, these stats, these comparisons to say our education system [teachers, students, curriculum…] just don’t measure up. Yes, and we are not Japan, Germany, Russia, China… If we want to be them, in all respects, then by all means.
It bears me repeating again that we LOVE these stats and numbers when we compare education systems but refuse to use the very same stats and numbers [in styles, origins and more] when comparing things like health care and crime. We say we don’t need some other country’s ideas invading our health care system or crime or gun legislation, yet we are seemingly 100% comfortable comparing ourselves and using them to promote education change and ideas. I believe this is utter stupidity and narrow-minded idiocy.
[If you cannot see the problem here, reading anything here will challenge you, so look elsewhere…]
In the classrooms we use very standardized left-brain focused tests where there is no room for variation, no room for comment/analysis of error, and no acceptance of the possibility of error [I think more people should read Henry Perkinson - and albeit I do not agree with everything he says, he makes tremendous points - which might explain why his books are out of print like so many others who figured stuff out but stood against authoritarian folly]. We do not engender critical thinking, discourse, and depth of evaluation. We do create test-takers and obedient drones who will do what we tell them when we tell them to do it [no better than ants for the hill, bees for the hive, termites for the termitary].
People, the herd, the mass-minds, do not see this. They are not being led to even see this as a possibility, and the moment someone in education points it out, the person is attacked as afraid of the tests and such because they might identify them as a “bad teacher”. This is marvelous because even our definitions of “good teacher” and “bad teacher” have changed as a result of the test craze [now a good teacher has students who pass the tests, caring and nurturing be damned, and the bad teacher is the one who might not get the high test scores but nurtures and cares (perhaps builds critical thinkers and risk-takers)].
We have decisions to make. Are we going to be a nation of followers [ants, bees, termites, working, working, working until the day we die], or are we going to be a nation or thinkers and doers who make free and unbiased choices about careers [not all of which involve college by the way] and engender caring and concern for our fellow citizens [beyond throwing some cash at a charity]?