How and what to teach

A kid who gets interested in something can whip through years of instruction in months. Children who have been failing for years suddenly pay attention and graduate at the heads of their classes. These are more than curiosities. This reflects what human beings are.

We were a country of unlimited opportunity. We really were. We went to school and some of us took to it and some of us didn’t. Those with a bent were encouraged to lean that way, and we built a new world.

When we turned education into a policy,  and opportunity into a set of available choices, we turned against ourselves. Some kids will compete to get the best scores on a test, but most won’t. And nobody’s going to choose test-taking as a career.

I’ve wondered before about our national fascination with math and science, advertised as the disciplines of our salvation. With my own children, I notice teaching math and science is simply the easiest teaching, because the answers are obvious and the scores are clear. I suspect that’s what’s really behind our national mistake. We built this country without standardized tests. With them, we’re slowly tearing it down.

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