Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Prep

Will Richardson touches on the negative consequences of equating better schools and better teachers with better test scores. He argues that schools need to shift their focus from test prep to life prep. By determining the quality of a school or a teacher by the score of a test, the concentration of schooling becomes merely test prep, leaving little or no room for life prep. We live in a world that needs creative and innovative minds; a world that is perpetually rewarding original ideas and depth of knowledge. Yet by focusing on improving test scores, we achieve the opposite, students who believe there is only ever one right answer, students who can recall a wide range of facts, but cannot speak in depth on any one subject.

It becomes clear that schools are designed for an out-dated system. They create an identically prepared workforce that can perform rudimentary tasks and participate in conventional thinking that maintains the status quo. Steps must be taken to prepare students for life that meets our current demands, not the needs of past-century factories. We must practice collaboration. If we teach students to share and respond to the ideas of their classmates, we develop a citizenry better prepared and adapted for our inter-connected society. When we give students time and resources for individual pursuits, we create the experts and specialists of tomorrow. By not limiting students to one “right” answer and, instead, rewarding innovation and creative thinking, we allow for the essential inventors of tomorrow. We need to adjust our thinking to determine what “better” schools really mean.

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