What a heartening article in the Elkhart Truth on Jan. 22. High school students will soon be taking “standardized tests that require them to write, think, analyze and solve problems,” leaving behind the
rote memorization and multiple guess testing that has plagued our educational system for too many years (“Updated student tests will focus less on memorization, more on knowledge,” Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle). Using a wide range of reading materials, “the new standards will emphasize critical thinking and problem solving rather than memorization.” Our students just might begin to understand that learning and thinking are fun and rewarding.
Tests will need to be graded by humans rather than computers. This will take more time and, at least in the initial stages, cost more money but the result can be real learning — and not a moment too soon.
The drop-out rates in our high schools is a tragedy, for the students and the country. Disinterested and uncooperative parents are often cited as a major reason schools have disinterested and uncooperative students. Teachers cannot solve that problem. If, however, the system gives teachers the tools and the opportunity to challenge students’ imaginations and curiosity, many young people, never challenged at home, will predictably respond to a more stimulating and rewarding atmosphere at school. At the same time, dedicated students will welcome the thinking over the rote memorization standard.
To have the country’s educational system endorse real teaching and real learning is a long overdue gift to teachers.