Sunday, February 2, 2014

A little knowledge ....

The true nature of education in the United States is nothing more than a fraudulent shadow of subterfuge and deception.  Children’s needs and teachers please go unheeded as the once great institution of learning continues to fall and miserably fail under the specter of abject complacency and money hungry administrators.  Billions are spent and billions are wasted on the frivolous and inconsequential designs of a magic “program”, hoping that, at least one, fanciful expenditure will create that long hoped for solution that will create beautiful minds of promise while filling the silk lined pockets of its creator.

Education has eliminated the need to learn and replaced that essential aspect of knowledge with disproven and often damaging prospect of testing.  Testing has transformed the universal prospect of an educated populous into a statistical driven business that heightens the act of the test to a supreme status, diminishing education and knowledge and the heavenly achievement of learning just to learn.

It is important to evaluate our present levels and to gauge our understanding in order to more effectively plan how to learn or teach but the prospect of testing and grading is repugnant to the simple and humble process of learning.  In life we learn from our mistakes and our successes, the grading of our lives never really ending.  We may obtain an A+ in some areas of our lives and a D or worse in others but those grades never determine our placement for the future.  A grade is only a snapshot of where we are now not for the rest of forever.

Testing a student in math or science is essential in order to understand those present levels of understanding but almost universally those grades are static and fixed points of failure with only the top tier students gaining success and future promise of success.  A good example would be using a simple bell curve of any class to illustrate how learning is not the so called adopted process of our present education model.  Approximately 16% of all students excel in any given subject (those earning a B or better) the rest of the students achieve substantially less on each test, receiving a grade of C or worse. 

For those who achieve they have learned most of what taught or at least tested, while those who failed to achieve a B or better are in a serious deficit.  30% of the required knowledge is forsaken at the C level with 40% for D and 50% for F.  This is the reality of testing; it is not a function of learning.  For learning to be  supreme those who have not achieved at least 80% understanding should be re-taught and reinforced before they can move on to the next chapter.  Almost all learning is accumulative and without the foundational process extra learning is hopeless and a complete waste of time and resources. 

If a student is consistently a C student (a passing student) then by end of the year that student only has a rudimentary grasp on the essential aspects of those “important” topics we deem to be indispensable for future success.  The question must be asked, is it better to have 100% of a portion of a house or 70% of every part of the house?  You can ponder and decide which is better.

Education in the United States is falling further and further behind almost every other industrialized nation and many poorer countries as well and the reason for that failure is simply because we do not demand that our student learn.  We test, we drill, we advance with only partial understanding and expect our children to be able to build an entire house with only 40, 50 or even 70% of the needed materials.  It can’t be done.  One can build a livable and safe enclosure with less if the list is complete but no one can build a life of promise when a substantial portion of the needed information is missing.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; 
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

And for those who do not fully understand the statement above was first coined by Alexander Pope, an 18th Century poet (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744).

And for those who need further explanation, Pope is telling us all that it’s better not to drink or learn at all unless were willing to drink deep from that well and learn deeply.  For those who only suck the bug infested upper waters will forever have bugs in their teeth.  Ignorance is bliss some say and perhaps their right for once you start to learn ignorance is lost and the only way toward bliss is to embrace the light of learning, drinking deeply from the well of all knowledge.

Our schools, our administrators promote only the skim and sheen of a polished exterior, leaving the depth of those brains empty and grasping, never knowing the strength of truly understanding.  At least a few are making a good living, even if it is at the expense of our future and the future of this once great country.