Richard L. Moake, AIA
According to Mr. Ted Dintersmith this is the most frequently asked question posed by students to their teachers. So, we ask the question “Why in the world are we teaching the same ways we were teaching students over 150 years ago?”
The answer is our political leaders have settled on standardized testing as the simplest method for measuring the success of schools, teachers and students. The problem remains, the real world is an ever-changing, dynamic that prizes innovation, thinking and problem solving where memorizing minutiae is of little value. Today most everyone has learned that facts, figures and encyclopedic volumes of information are only seconds away and at our fingertips 24/7/365, through devices we carry with us everywhere.
What we have overlooked in teaching and learning is obvious. Students need to have engagement, excitement, and an opportunity to be a part of something... understanding, thinking, discovering, solving and sharing.
The business world today desperately needs people who understand the concept of Team and project-based accomplishment. The critical skills to do so are fundamentally opposed to the idea of standardized testing and comparison of results. Teachers should be more like coaches. The most successful ones are those who engage and encourage students working together in cross-disciplinary Teams, thinking innovatively and solving actual problems and not just trying to “find the correct answer.”
Students and Teachers need the flexibility of space and time to engage, collaborate, innovate and create, along the way experiencing failure. It is what normal people do every day. A school is not a building…but buildings can and do house schools.
Buildings must foster inspiration for both the teacher and student.
Think about places you have been or worked that left you cold, uninspired, and anxious to leave. Now think about the places and things you have experienced that energized you to excel at SOMETHING. That is what educators and students need. . . places to excel and accomplish. If only the National and State political leaders would step aside and allow business leaders, real educators, and students to collaborate, innovate, fail and continually search for something better we could begin to create the dynamic problem solvers of tomorrow, who no longer need to ask the question “is this going to be on the test”.