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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Creativity can't be taught, but it can be killed

...centralized curriculum, standardized testing, accountability, required courses of study -- could burden or kill outright the creativity of American schoolchildren. Worse, the reforms neglect the real problems in U.S. education, namely, how to work with our neighbors in the global village and how to really help the poor schools and poor children.
See also Students may have tough choices ahead.

The United States will continue to be an innovation center, provided school reforms don't quash creativity in our children. In this "flat" world, the premium is on individuals who can market the innovations to other countries without being perceived as arrogant and imperialistic.

...) Even as American schools are encouraged, even forced, to chase after test scores, America's major Asian economic competitors -- China, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan -- have started reforms aimed at fostering creativity and innovative thinking in their schools.

China, for example, has reformed its curriculum through such drastic measures as minimizing the consequences of poor performance on tests; abandoning its one-nation, one-syllabus tradition; offering more electives and choices for students; and reducing students' homework burden.

I was listening to Jack Lessenberry's show Do This, Or We Fail (scroll to Tuesday Jan 17 for a short essay and the audio) as he spoke with (MI) State Superintendent Mike Flanagan about his proposal for higher standards. While I can see the attraction to 'higher standards', I can't help but think that it will absolutely stifle, suffocate, smother and ultimately kill the spirit of innovation. Not at all unlike a workplace filled with robots and rigidity, misplaced or misinterpreted concepts of 'higher standards' are simply going to be a form of squelching creativity, instilling a rigid hierarchy that, in my opinion, is already rigid beyond functionality and by encouraging rote, rather than critical learning. I do think it could be implemented if done creatively and very carefully, but I'm afraid the end they are hoping to achieve isn't very desirable. I'm also afraid there would be many many minds left in the dust or perhaps more pointedly, left on the street, unprepared.

For those unaware of the proposal, Michigan apparently currently only requires one semester of civics to earn a high school diploma which does in fact seem ludicrious, however, Mike Flanagan wants the state legislature to change that to include four years of math including Algebra and Algebra 2; four years of English, three of social studies and two of world languages. As well as a year of physical education and arts.

I see no provision for those who are struggling. Do It or You Fail. (or drop out)
posted by Cyndy | link | | |


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