Test score burrito

Robert Fried says…

Like Jacob, the biblical youth who sold his patrimony to his brother Esau for the equivalent of a Big Mac, our youth are cajoled into giving up their independent spirit of learning, their spiritual heritage as self-motivated seekers, to get a test score burrito or a report card wrap.

The ultimate irony of this transference is that those few students who manage to retain their independent learning spirit . . . are likely to be better positioned to blossom academically and vocationally than those who pursue academic achievement through the Game. It is from that minority unencumbered by pseudo-goals that we get most of our inventors, entrepeneurs, artists, and scientists. What leads to success at higher levels of abstraction and study is precisely this ability to turn from the expected to pursue the intriguing . . . to awaken to the new theory or pattern amid the cacophony of conventional thinking. [The Game of School, p. 80]

6 Responses to “Test score burrito”

  1. Um, I think that biblical reference is backwards. Esau was the older brother and he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew, not the other way around.

  2. Parents are perhaps in the best position to protect and foster their childrens’ creativity, and could push schools in this direction as well, but (in my experience) many of them are so cowed by the dominant paradigm that their degree of “buy in” prevents them from being able to be effective advocates in this.

    Without parental acceptance and even enthusiasm, a school attempting to transform itself into environment that supports creative and non-linear thinking will find itself dead in the water.

  3. Shelley, I get what you’re saying, but I think schools have to educate and lead their parents and communities in desired directions. Otherwise they’re hostage to their communities’ lack of understanding and inertia, no?

  4. It seems sad that our schools feel they need to rely on parental acceptance and/or enthusiasm to produce great thinkers. If the system of education came together as a ‘whole’ and said…’This is what needs to be done with our students to create the best that education has to offer…’ parents would be there. I don’t believe that the parents and communities have hindered creativity in schools; I believe it is the system itself that holds back an innovative…creative…non-linear school.

  5. Scott, I absolutely believe that schools have to educate and lead, and not let themselves be held hostage. I also think that it’s easier said than done.

    And Melissa, I think you’re right, too… many parents WOULD be there if schools made a compelling and cogent case for supporting creativity. But I don’t see many schools doing that. And I DO see parents made uneasy by anything that seems “nontraditional” (read: different from what they remember?). I’m thinking about the few US independent upper schools that moved away from the AP curriculum. If you talk to the folks in those schools about what that was like, you’ll hear that the parents were a huge obstacle (albeit ultimately one that was overcome through passionate and informed persuasion).

  6. How about getting our Post-Secondary on board with “all of us” in saying this is what is needed? Think that will happen? Do you see the universities accepting a “capabilities checkoff” or “skills list” as verification of suitability to their program? Tests and grades are their way to measure potential. I’ll debate/argue anything for the love of pushing my thinking and learning from it, but my GRE score had better be acceptable, or forget that doctoral program.

    Actually, I have trouble thinking that we can gather a “whole,” (per Melissa) at all, at any level and, “educate and lead their parents and communities in desired directions,” (per Scott). We don’t know as a whole what the desired directions could be. We are still looking, and we are leaping off the cliff with new ideas – some successful, some not. Not sure there is a better way to actually do that at this point…seems like we are somewhat on our own if we want changes. Does that put us in the category of, “that minority unencumbered by pseudo-goals..,” where, “…we get most of our inventors, entrepeneurs, artists, and scientists.” Maybe if we gave everyone a burrito while we considered it…

Leave a Reply