Wednesday, August 29, 2012

P.S. : The Last Last Word

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
--William Butler Yeats

In a nutshell, this quotation inadvertently capsulizes the conflict between quantitative and qualitative measures of learning. Students in the U.S. are told and retold by the numbers on their erroneously named "standardized tests" that their pails are nearly empty and they need to work harder at filling them with such drivel as "how to take tests," "how to get into a great college by upping your SAT scores," and other slogans of the corporate culture. After all, if it's not about numbers or the "bottom line," how can it count at all? This is the absurd end result of the corporate double-think that has consumed what we used to consider "public" education, once one of our most treasured institutions. (Read all the details here: "How the Corporate Culture Warps Our View of School Reform.")

Teachers who used to love their work because of their ability to "light a fire" and watch the lights go on behind a student's eyes are now bludgeoned by national policy to narrow the curriculum, follow the party line, find a way to explain this absurdity to parents, and stop spending time on "frills," i.e. music, drama, art, discussion, experimentation, group projects, peer feedback, coaching, and all the other ways that excellent teachers make valuable contact with students and parents every day.

Thus, as the infographic in the previous blog entry (The Last Word on "Testing") aptly demonstrates, the corporate culture that spawned our current love affair with numbers as measures of "worth" is enriching Pearson and the other Big Five testing companies (and their lobbyists) while draining both the spirit and the funding away from real learning. THANKS, designers and Accredited Online Colleges for helping us visualize what is really a complex argument in a very elegant form. I will be posting it on my Facebook page to promote its message and help disseminate your illuminating work!

P.P.S. After being gone from the online scene for a couple of months while relocating from Southern California to Central California (giving up the ocean for the foothills at the doorway to Yosemite, a good trade, all things considered), I am delighted to see that more and more people are becoming smarter and smarter about how to approach the testing question and how to create positive change in spite of the education bureaucracy that wastes money so lavishly. Please take a look at for the latest and most authoritative information on high-stakes testing, and do sign their resolution (click on the first bullet point at the above link) to abolish these punitive testing practices in our schools. School is not a business, not a numbers game, and it's about time we all got together and SAID so!

The Last Word on "Testing"

Thanks to a design group dedicated to linking visualization to learning, Accredited Online Colleges was able to put up a fabulous graphic on their blog, detailing the effect of testing, retesting, and overtesting on U.S. schools. Take a look at the elegant use and display of the statistics below and the overall impact of the concise information presented in this infographic to get a real answer to all of those naysayers who keep denying the detrimental effects of "standardized testing." Just follow the money, of course, as noted below: Pearson and its cohorts in the Big Five of national testing companies are making BILLIONS from state and national policy while the kids, teachers, parents, and communities that support and work in our public schools remain underfunded and underloved.

Check it out for yourself:

standardized testing infographic

Thanks to Allison Morris and the rest of the design team that provides these infographics for Accredited Online Colleges and other resource sites. The clever way they have combined easy reading, visual cues, and sourced statistics demonstrates the precise method for teaching that suits the 21st century learner: quick, one-stop assimilation that shows CONNECTIONS among ideas. Hey, we're ALL visual learners now!