People, Politics & Business

Scoundrels, Educrats, Rogues and Champions

Now Big Gov/Biz Wants To Test Kids On Collaboration Skills?

CJW, May 26, 2010 4:30 PM


Gulf Oil Spill:
The "Morning Joe" Segment Below
May Blow Your Mind


A "Test-Worthy" Example of
Problem-Solving, Collaboration,
Communication & Critical Thinking Skills

By C.J. Westerberg

Senator Sessions (R) from Alabama, Joe Scarborough (where the oil spill hitting his home-town back-yard, is almost frothing at the mouth) and Mika Brzezinski, rightfully so, ask why hasn't President Obama been convening every bright mind in the world ....getting the best minds together -- to solve this problem?    The oil is spewing, birds and wildlife are being suffocated, and now chemicals that have been approved by the EPA are, well, now being questioned as may being not the best choice, with the related implications to the fishing & tourist businesses (basically the lifeblood of this area)  representing 1/3 our national seafood, let alone the bigger impact on the entire eco-system in the Gulf?  Do we really think this just affects a few fishermen?  What about the pregnant mom-to-be in Seattle or New York who eats the fish or shrimp that "got through the system" in a few years?  And we are waiting for a big executive from BP to tell us what is going on?   Horrors!  Where the hell is everybody?

Sorry, just not good enough.

With NYTimes Andrew Ross Sorkin and Mike Barnicle shaking their heads in dismay on the s-l-o-w developments in the Gulf,  it is apparent there is not much going on in the communication, collaboration, problem solving department of our entrusted leaders except talk.  Then we came upon this article  today and thought, "how absurd" it all is taken in context:   

"Chesterfield County middle schools this year are assessing all eighth-graders' knowledge of 21st-century skills, which include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, innovation and use of technology."

"We obviously want our kids to have those 21st-century skills," said director of technology Lynda Gillespie. "The only way to make sure that you have those skills is through assessment." 

"The federal No Child Left Behind, which is being reviewed for reauthorization, would require schools to test students' knowledge of these skills starting in 2012, Gillespie said. . . ."

Wow.  Sounds lovely.
Too bad, they missed the point entirely for 21st Century skills. We just can't help but think that when tested at a national level, these skills, which we believe in as essential, will end up becoming a world apart from the original good intentions.  With recent past events in oil spill, financial meltdown, Congressional behavior, deficit spending, oversight, NCLB (No Child Left Behind) fiascos and scamming, why shouldn't we say "enough with the testing already"?

I say:
"Yeah, go ahead.  Show us the tests and results on 8th grader problem-solving skills.  Quid pro quo, baby - let's check your standards and performance to see how you measure up -  then let's talk."

Parents, this testing will not be a good thing, we can almost guarantee it.  Teachers, what are you supposed to do, stand as proctor and just hand out pencils for -- "How to solve oil spill?"
and have the little ones graded by multiple choice?  Right or wrong?

One first has to know the right answer.  To solve the problem fast?  To save one's ass?  Or to protect the company's bottom-line?   What about "Let's throw in some chemicals to see what happens?"

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Even in our best schools, we are teaching kids to memorize much more than to think. And in the 21st century, mere memorization won't get you very far.
Tony Wagner

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