“Understand your motives and reassess your aims”
I think this is important no matter what your age or profession, but as we consider education reform, this idea strikes an important note. In the politics of education, a lot of focus is being placed on international competition. Where globalization has brought about many wonderful things, it has somewhat muddled what we believe is important in formal education. As education is ultimately a political entity, it is no surprise that it has been pulled in to the political struggle for power among nations. Whether or not this should occur and to what degree is debatable however, its current influence is undeniable and should be discussed.
The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a common assessment taken by students from the countries who are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The United States performed poorly compared to other OECD members in the most recent test, its best ranking being in reading and earning 17th place out of the 34 participating countries. It should be noted that the recent decline in rank was not due to a decline in U.S. students’ performance, the scores have remained relatively stable. However, a rapid improvement on the part of foreign students have left these scores behind. Though there has not been a ‘decline’ in student performance, these ranks have shaken politics and has caused another wave of ‘testing scare’. The PISA test has been given every 3 years since 2000 and the United States, as far as politics are concerned, has a history of troubling scores. As a result, test scores have become a political obsession which translates into what schools are required teach and how they are supposed to teach it. In other words, ‘testing scare’ has come to determine the goals/aims of our education system.
Where I am a huge supporter of international cooperation and global awareness, I believe that in this instance, global competition has caused us to lose sight of our strengths and the things we valued in our education system. Right now, we are merely struggling to catch up in any way we can. We have a motive, but we need to reassess our aims. It may sound cliché, but where we excel is in creating thinking and innovation. Don’t believe me? If you look at our economic booms in the past, they have centered around products and systems that we invented (i.e. the automobile industry). Despite what Suli says, the programs our universities and colleges provide, programs that promote the mastery of professional content and teach the skills necessary to utilize this content, are some of the most desirable in the world. Moving forward, we must begin to reassess what kind of thinkers we would like to inherit our country’s future and gear education towards that end. If we are successful in that effort, the test scores are sure to follow.