June 19, 2008

There are always tradeoffs

It's true. In computers, the trade-offs are usually between "fast", "big", and "cheap" - pick two of the three. Increasingly the trade-offs in that particular area are less noticeable, but that's not my point.

A new study, reported on by the NY Times, says that increased focus on gains for "low-achieving" students is leaving out, or leaving behind, the top students. I don't think it's wrong to focus on the lower achievers, in fact, I think it's the most important thing we can do. However, I also think that the whole educational system needs some revision.

I won't claim to know what needs to be done, but I think we need to have less focus on testing. True, it's the only way we know of to get some sort of bead on the effect of our educational efforts but it's also responsible for the worst turn I've seen education in a long time: teaching to the test. That pattern of teaching towards regurgitation is a poor use of our educators and a waste of time for our children (admittedly, I say this without having a family of my own).

Sometimes our school systems drive me crazy.


Brian Sullivan said...

Man, you should talk to my wife. Being a teacher, she has some very strong opinions on this (agreeing more or less with what you said).