Monday, March 25, 2013

But How Will Their Students Pass The State Assessment?

As our students in Massachusetts settle in for their annual round of "high-stakes" testing, I think it is the perfect time for people to take a few minutes to watch the video from TEDxCreativeCoast titled The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice.  The presentation by Jaime McGrath (an elementary school teacher in Savannah, GA) and Drew Davies (a web designer) was posted on Mind Shift's blog about a month ago and I forgot about it until I saw a tweet last night with the link. It really is a must watch for anyone who thinks that our current educational structure is adequate.

It's no newsflash the current structure of most classrooms is unchanged from the structure that was created to educate students for an industrial society back in the 19th Century.  At one point in our history fitting the right piece in the right hole as quickly as possible and being able to retain large amounts of trivial information in order to regurgitate it or draw from it quickly may have actually been useful. However in a day and age where asking the right questions is of more value than providing a quick response to a multiple choice question, we are past the point of needing a change.

In fact the findings of educators like McGrath, who stray from the current script and look at problem-based education and a focus on "design thinking" are clear.
"All we did was give them the challenge, point them in the right direction and give them the space to be creative," noted McGrath.  
Here are a few of my take-aways made by the co-presenters Jaime McGrath (an elementary school teacher in Savannah, GA) and Drew Davies (a web designer):

  • Reports predict that 65% of our students will be working in jobs that don't exist yet.
  • "Such simple tasks as manipulation of blocks helps infants and toddlers develop early skills, including math literacy - the language of numbers." Huttenlocher, Jordan, and Levine 1994
  • Don't need students skilled in picking A, B, C, D 
  • "A true understanding of reality is not possible without a certain element of imagination..." Lev Vygotsky 
  • Design in education compliments all learning styles 
  • Will it be messy and risky? But what is the reality we are trying to prepare our kids for? 
  • The future is not a multiple choice test, it is a design challenge

So my question about the state assessment (or a national assessment) posed above was - "How will these students pass the state (or national) assessment. Here's my answer -  "Who Cares!"

I think the bottom line is that students who are being taught in classrooms where they are being taught to think will be successful on any measure.

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