Tests confirm…ed reformers are suffering from impaired judgement and diminished critical thinking skills due to an acute case of PISA envy.
Ed reformers should reconsider their admiration for education systems that prepare young people to live and work in closed societies that don’t value creativity, freedom of expression, and independent thinking.
In a free and open democratic society education should serve the needs and interests of students, rather than data miners, corporations, or the state.
Common Core may “promise” deeper learning and critical thinking but the sterilized and standardized curriculum of scripted modules, discipline of thought, and continuous test prep would be more appropriate for classrooms in nations that expect conformity and require obedience from their citizens and workers.
In their quest for higher PISA scores, other nations will cultivate compliance and competition in the classroom rather than creativity and collaboration so that students willingly attend after-hours tutoring, Saturday classes, and even hook themselves up to amino acid IV drips to boost energy levels during long study sessions.
The significant differences between a vast and geographically diverse continental nation like the United States and smaller land-locked or island nations like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore etc. will most certainly account for a dramatic difference in the career paths available to students.
Career readiness in America should be about preparing students for the wide array of vocational opportunities our country has to offer including the arts, science, health care, manual trades, conservation, forestry, culinary, military, public service, hospitality, ranching, dairy farming, equestrian, criminal justice, human services, engineering etc.
Trying to model our school programs based on the rigid education systems in countries that do not have such a variety of career choices and vocational paths is foolish and not in the best interest of our students or our nation.
Education programs in smaller nations that are not as geographically and culturally diverse and with more restrictive governments will naturally focus on standardized curriculum and much narrower academic skill sets and job skills because students in these nations have more limited social, political, and vocational options.
As far as the ed reformers love affair with data, rather than comparing the Reading and Math PISA scores of say Singapore or China to the United States, why not compare their Human Rights Watch “scores” to the United States?…
“Chinese people had no say in the selection of their new leaders, highlighting that despite the country’s three decades of rapid modernization, the government remains an authoritarian one-party system that places arbitrary curbs on freedom of expression, association, religion, prohibits independent labor unions and human rights organizations, and maintains party control over all judicial institutions. The government also censors the press, internet, and publishing industry, and enforces highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.”
Human Rights Watch World Report 2013: China
“The Singapore government in 2012 continued to sharply restrict basic rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and association. However, there were small signs of progress in other areas, including changes in mandatory death penalty laws, and limited improvements in protecting the rights of migrant workers and combating human trafficking.”
Human Rights Watch World Report 2013: Singapore
If ed reformers insist on comparing the academic performance of American students to young people in other nations, then they should be careful not to include those education systems that primarily serve the math, reading, and science needs of restrictive governments in nations with more limited career opportunities.
Preparing American students for the wide variety of career opportunities in our nation requires a customized and vigorous curriculum focused on student interests and designed to increase academic, emotional, social, and vocational skills rather than a standardized and common curriculum focused on a narrow set of Math and ELA Standards and intended to increase PISA scores.
People learn through experimentation and experience. They acquire knowledge and skills by taking risks and testing things, not taking tests.