Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ah, the Good Old School Days

There is much criticism these days about the state of education in America. Much is justified, others is nothing but political blather by those people who would like to dismantle the entire public school system. Many of these advocate for returning to the 'good old days' when 'teachers taught and kids learned.' Back to the basics! they shout. As if the Studebaker still sits in new car showrooms.

'It was good enough for me!' is another moronic phrase that drips from the lips of those who still question the spherical shape of this planet. Was it so good? What did students have to learn back then? Why do many believe that the old way was better? Revisionist history or nostalgia cataract-ing their brain?

My son sent me a link to a site that posts the '1954 8th grade Civics Test' so that people can compare the 'good old school days' to their conception of the modern school days.

Here's the first question from the 55-year-old test:

[1- 20] List the 10 Cabinet positions and give the name of each person holding that position.

Well, go ahead.  Kenny Hignite got all 20 correct.  What a smart boy!  Or, rather, what a great memory, Kenny!

Yes, it was a memorization question, known as 'knowledge level' at the bottom of the pyramid of Bloom's Taxonomy.  Back in the old days, students were often asked memorization questions and the better one's memory, the better the
 grade on those tests. Note that 'knowledge' rests at the bottom.

What if Kenny had been asked this question instead:

Select two of the cabinet postions in the Eisenhower Administration and compare the duties of each.

We now have ascended the pyramid and deepened both the learning and the brain function of the child.  

What if we ask this question:  In your opinion, which of the cabinet positions is most important at this time in our nation's history?  Defend your choice.  Which is least important?  Why do you say that?

Here the student is required not only to have the knowledge of who is who, but he/she must evaluate two offices and then defend his/her opinion.  The hum of brainwaves throughout the classroom is audible.

Ah, the good old daze....

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