One of my biggest concerns with the Internet and mass media today is the abundance of misinformation. There is just so much wrong information out there. How can we ensure people effectively discern the good from the bad? Adding to this concern is the emphasis on test-based learning in schools. Teaching to the test leads only to superficial knowledge. A little bit of everything leads adds up to not much of anything.
I was reminded of this while reading a recent article for a class, titled Learning in Depth by Kieran Egan. In the article, Egan addresses the lack of in-depth learning taking place in many classrooms and why learning in depth is vital to our education system. “[Students] seldom learn how knowledge differs from belief and opinion, thereby making them, potentially, more gullible. Some are prone to take on board unsound beliefs whereas others become assertively confident in their own opinion about things in which they lack secure knowledge.” By focusing on easily measured standards to account for instruction, such as testing, rather than focusing on active knowledge building, we are creating a very dangerous future for ourselves. It is one where people can be easily manipulated by pundits, talking points, and charisma rather than understanding and assessing things for what they really are. It is dangerous because it takes control out of the hands of the people and places it under those who pull the strings.
If you and I don’t agree, fine, but at least be equipped with more than just, “I saw it on TV” or “I found it on Google.” We need to support an education system that gives students the ability to build quality knowledge so we can have real discourse in society. Then, we can truly build (cue Hail to the Chief) a better America.
And my guess is, the most emphatic supporters of standardized testing are those in power because the easiest way to stay in control is by keeping everyone else dumb. But that’s just my opinion.