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The nation with
the highest test scores wins, right? Wrong. The nation that
teaches the whole child wins, if you ask me.
Test scores are just numbers on a page. I've lost count of how many children and adolescents I have treated for
test anxiety during the past 15 years, but I can tell you that it affects kids
from all different schools (public, private, you name it) and at all different
ages. Some kids freeze upon hearing
"begin" during a timed test. Some kids
panic when they flip through the entire test and see how many questions they
need to tackle. Some study for days only
to "forget" everything the minute they sit down. It can happen during standardized tests, it
can happen during quizzes and tests, and it can happen during oral exams.
At the end of
the day, numbers are just numbers. Yes,
averages and data can be useful, but they don't tell the complete story.
I'm a believer
in learning from other schools, other districts and other nations. Instead of focusing on the win, I believe in
finding ways to improve our schools by learning from others.
Finland made headlines
recently after announcing upcoming education reform. Under the National Curriculum Framework,
schools will implement at least one extended period of multi-disciplinary,
phenomenon-based teaching and learning. Students
will also have a voice in planning and assessing these study periods. Imagine
that? During at least one period of the
day, students have a voice in what they learn. That's life changing.
declining test scores in on international tests, educators in Finland believe
that schools should teach kids what they actually need to learn instead of
simply teaching to improve tests scores.
to bring in the top scores certainly provides the educators a better climate
for teaching. Yes, they will continue to
teach subjects (despite some headlines stating the opposite), but they also
teach the kids real world issues and help them find their strengths.
In this kind of
a learning environment, my daughter would have the opportunity to channel her
creativity into her work instead of constantly being told to answer the
questions first and add the artwork if time allows. In this kind of environment she could learn
to merge the two and put it all together.
While no two
nations are the same, and it isn't fair to make direct comparisons, we can learn
from other educators to make improvements in our own schools.
"An appropriate curriculum for young children
is one that includes the focus on supporting children's in-born intellectual
their natural inclinations," Katz explains. Young children need a wide variety of opportunities and experiences
within the context of learning. "I suggest that early childhood curriculum and
teaching methods are likely to be best when they address children's lively
minds so that they are quite frequently fully intellectually engaged," says Katz.
is ever perfect, and all educational systems need reform at times. While scores might help us find areas of
weakness, I think we need to move toward a whole child approach (really, not
just on paper) if we want our children to succeed in the world. And that begins with taking back childhood,
setting developmentally appropriate educational goals and meeting our students
where they are in the learning process.
do all of that, we need to stop competing and start taking notes.