Yesterday, President Bush talked about “blogs” for the first time ever (according to TV press sources today.) He encouraged U.S. citizens (and others) to read milblogs to get a broader perspective on what is happening in Iraq’s civil war. Here is an excerpt from the President’s speech, and his reference to blogs:
One of the things that we’ve got to value is the fact that we do have a media, free media, that’s able to do what they want to do. And I’m not going to — you’re asking me to say something in front of all the cameras here. (Laughter.) Help over there, will you? (Laughter.)
I just got to keep talking. And one of the — there’s word of mouth, there’s blogs, there’s Internet, there’s all kinds of ways to communicate which is literally changing the way people are getting their information. And so if you’re concerned, I would suggest that you reach out to some of the groups that are supporting the troops, that have got Internet sites, and just keep the word — keep the word moving. And that’s one way to deal with an issue without suppressing a free press. We will never do that in America. I mean, the minute we start trying to suppress our press, we look like the Taliban. The minute we start telling people how to worship, we look like the Taliban. And we’re not interested in that in America. We’re the opposite. We believe in freedom. And we believe in freedom in all its forms. And obviously, I know you’re frustrated with what you’re seeing, but there are ways in this new kind of age, being able to communicate, that you’ll be able to spread the message that you want to spread.
President Bush is correct in highlighting the importance for people of all ages to look at multiple sources of information when making up their minds or doing research about a particular issue. This is true for the war in Iraq and pretty much any other topic.
Sadly, NCLB offers no encouragement what-so-ever (at least as far as I know) for students to develop this vitally important literacy skill. Our “No Child Left Untested” program might have done a great job providing summative assessments for students in the 20th century, but it certainly does not encourage the formative, ongoing, as well as summative assessments of learning and literacy skills that our students need in the 21st century. It does not encourage teachers to help students prepare to solve the ill-structured problems of the real world (in contrast to the well-structured problems on multiple-choice examinations.) It does not encourage students to develop digital literacy skills, to create authentic representations of their learning and knowledge, to tell compelling stories and connect with digital tools with others around the country and the globe. No, NCLB encourages teachers to teach to a test. It perpetuates a myth most administrators seem to have bought into that quality education is defined by a scripted curriculum taught according to an inflexible pacing guide. This is a lie, yet most policymakers and administrators in education today seem to accept these ideas as articles of faith.
This environment may not constitute a crime against humanity (that would be an exaggeration), but it certainly is an injustice against our children and the future of our nation that we, as a free people able to speak out, should not tolerate. Our schools need to change, and the vision of NCLB is certainly NOT a child-centered vision. It is test centered, created primarily so politicians can congratulate themselves on taking action to improve education (which is everyone’s goal of course) while the students and teachers suffer on in our schools.
Am I speaking plainly enough about what I think on this subject?
I was very interested to learn today that in Denmark, the national assessment only counts for 50% of the overall learning assessment for individual students. The other 50% is locally determined based on the local curriculum that is followed, taught and assessed. Schools are free to develop authentic, performance-based assessments students can take to provide a more balanced perspective of their acquired knowledge and skills.
What a concept. I think we should learn from the educational leaders in Denmark on summative assessments. And we should stop being irrationally focused on summative assessments. We need to stop benchmark testing kids to death, and instead invite them into an engaged learning environment they would actually choose to be a part of if school wasn’t mandatory. Now that’s a revolutionary idea for you.
We do need to keep the word moving. And “the word” is that we need to prepare students for their future, not our past. NCLB is hurting kids more than it is helping them. And that injustice must stop.
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