Today I had fully planned to post my 4th “Deconstructing Unschooling” video, wherein I discussed the question oft asked of unschooling parents, “How do you know they’re learning?”
Unfortunately, when I went to edit said video, I discovered that I had inadvertently deleted the main clip – I usually film one longer clip and then several supplemental pieces – from my camera before importing it into the computer. Ugh! (First world problems, as my daughter would say.)
In any case, this means that I need to re-shoot the segment tomorrow, leaving me with nothing to post this evening.
Luckily I am not the only person writing about learning!
Jerry Mintz of AERO wrote this piece regarding the fallacy of testing and sent it to Newsday. If they’re smart they’ll publish it, but just in case they don’t, here it is:
The Testing Fallacy
The recent news in Newsday about the “failure rate” of New York students on standardized tests doesn’t even begin to touch on the inherent flaws of the tests.
Firstly, these tests don’t test anything important to a student’s future, such as creativity, responsibility, ability to understand, relate to and work with others, ability to use resources, etc. Factual knowledge is about the least important thing that a student needs in these days when you can look anything up. Look, for example, at Sugata Mitra’s work with the “hole in the wall” computers in India in which children cooperatively not only learned how to use the computer but learned English entirely on their own. Mitra spoke at our recently completed International Democratic Education Conference in Boulder, Colorado.
But the tests are a reflective indication of the loss of ability to learn even factual material. Why? The testing mania is forcing teachers to “teach to the test” and abandon almost anything that is interesting and fun in the child’s learning experience. This gradually extinguishes their natural ability to learn. So it accelerates the decrease in learning ability that happens when children are forced to learn material that is not of interest.
The traditional, professional educators who have forced this testing on the children and teachers were apparently completely unaware of the Heisenberg Principle in physics or the Hawthorne Principle in sociology—that you profoundly effect the subject of your measurement by the fact that you are measuring it. For example, in physics the Principle shows that you can never know everything about the location of particles because to locate them you need to shoot other particles at them, thus moving them. In the case of this forced, standardized testing the effect is powerfully negative, as even indicated in their own flawed tests.
This destructive regime of forced testing should be immediately abandoned.
The topic of testing goes hand in hand with the video I filmed (and then accidentally deleted) today, in that people mistakenly believe that testing correlates to what children know. As Jerry so eloquently writes, in fact it does not.
Then there was this blog post by Linda Wyatt in which she discusses what can and can’t be taught. It really struck a chord with me. It’s titled “I Can’t Teach You to Unschool” and I think you’ll love it as well.