No surprise I am anti-exams. Exams don’t give us a clear picture of student understanding. They don’t prepare students for 21st century careers. They cause anxiety for our students. They encourage low level thinking and regurgitation. They don’t encourage collaboration or creativity.
Last night #whereissasha blew up on social media. The teacher in me knew exactly why she wasn’t there. School. And the false notion that only learning happens in school.
In 1930 Eleanor Roosevelt gave a speech on education. In it she speaks about the goal of education: to create citizens. She says:
What is the purpose of education? This question agitates scholars, teachers, statesmen, every group, in fact, of thoughtful men and women. The conventional answer is the acquisition of knowledge, the reading of books, and the learning of facts. Perhaps because there are so many books and the branches of knowledge in which we can learn facts are so multitudinous today, we begin to hear more frequently that the function of education is to give children a desire to learn and to teach them how to use their minds and where to go to acquire facts when their curiosity is aroused. Even more all-embracing than this is the statement made not long ago, before a group of English headmasters, by the Archbishop of York, that “the true purpose of education is to produce citizens.”
In fact, many agree with Roosevelt’s comments. Our goal as educators is to produce productive citizens. Citizens who actively participate in government.
I can think of no better education than participating in your’s father historic farewell address, an address that references democracy 20 times and encourages active citizenship.
But, hey, the girl had an exam to take and the school doesn’t budge.
I feel her pain. As a senior in high school with a chronic illness that occasionally kept me home, one who still maintained straight A’s, I still had to take my end of year exams while my friends with A’s were exempt because they hadn’t missed more than 4 days a semester.
Why are we so driven by exams? So driven to jump through hoops?
We no longer need to groom industrial workers who can conform to schedules and time tables and follow directions.
Exams don’t really show what you know. They show you can memorize, follow rules, complete work in isolation, and finish in a set amount of time.
But, we allow them to dictate our school schedules, replace instructional time, and determine futures.
And we allow them to keep you from your father’s last speech as president.