Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math - New York Times

I’m glad to see there is a renewed focus on basic skill such as reading and math in schools, but at the risk of sounding like someone who can never be satisfied (not for the first time, mind you), I find it disheartening that increases in math and reading comes at the expense of other subjects like art and social sciences.

For the US to produce an innovative workforce and remain competitive in the future, its graduates must have strong quantitative and communication skills (math and reading), but they also must be aware of the world around them (social sciences) and creative thinkers (art/music). What the US doesn’t need is a generation of highly skilled, highly adept test-takers (No Child Left Behind.)

In our quest to quantify learning, we forget that it essentially an abstract process. In the drive to cram little heads with formulae and trivia that can be rote repeated come test-time, we neglect to teach how to learn and we neglect to foster their curious and creative sides.

I’m all for improvements in math and reading… if you don’t have those basics down, then all other attempts at education are moot. But there should be more balance and other aspects of a child’s mind need to be developed. There is a bottom-line argument for this. Silicon Valley can only survive if it is creative and innovative. The business of new ideas is here, the business of simply cranking out gizmos has moved on to other parts of the world where rote learning is more the norm.

No comments: