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Skills that Cannot be Measured
A love to learn
What is education? Is it knowledge in basic skills, academics, technical disciplines, citizenship…or is it something else? Our formal education system says only the academic basics are important, emphasizing the collection of knowledge without understanding its value. What about the processing of knowledge—using inspiration, visionary ambitions, creativity, risk, motivation and the ability to bounce back from failure? These skills are associated with understanding the value of knowledge, but many education institutions don’t consider these skills. There is a huge, disconnected gap, which is a problem for high school students in particular.
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and many other super achievers never finished grade school. They succeeded because they knew how to research, collect information for a selected project and process knowledge. Classroom environment does not work that way, it focuses on the collection of knowledge without a clear purpose, other than high class grades. If the purpose does not motivate, other than to please the teacher, then there is nothing to process outside of memorizing answers for test. The typical student is academic challenged while being motivation starved. Lack of motivation is lack of knowledge processing skills. The typical college graduate will have a professional skill that supplies life’s basic needs, that’s all.
What is education? The answer is, all elements in the opening paragraph and more, relate to education and all should be considered. This would be ideal and sounds good, but "all" is not possible where performance must be measured. Only what can be measured will be selected and the measuring tool is the written test. Anyone who does not have the ability to put clear thoughts on paper is labeled a failure. All natural skills, including knowledge processing, does not count. The fact is, what is exercised grows stronger, what is ignored stays dormant. The classroom exercises the collection of academics leaving all other natural skills in the closet.
Test does not measure intelligence or ability, it does not measure how the mind processes information, how motivating experiences develop persistence, or how the mind sorts out instincts, opinions, evaluations, possibilities, alternatives. Knowledge by itself has no value, it is like a dictionary filled with words. Words by themselves have no value, it is the process of stringing them together that gives them value. How they are strung together determines the level of value. Now our education system is becoming a system that memorizes the dictionary. When students have memorized selected knowledge, then they will be given a one-day test, based on dictionary knowledge, which will influence employment opportunity for the rest of their life. Natural skills are not considered. Is this how America became the worlds' economic leader? NO! Knowledge only has value when used with a process and process in an artificial environment is not predictable or measurable.
Achievers in life use inspiration and motivation to overcome barriers. Teaching to the test does not inspire or motivate anyone, memorizing does not inspire a love to learn, in fact, it does just the opposite, it turns off the desire to learn. Education’s goal should be to develop a love to learn that stays with students throughout a lifetime. Education should be a lifetime experience, not limited to the youth years.
Educators are switching to test because there is a crisis in education of their own making and society wants measurable results. This pressure is passed on to political leaders who base political decisions on what is measurable, which is academic test and test are based on acceptance of the status quo. Every student must now accept the status quo and be an academic intellectual or be labeled a failure. Natural talent and knowledge processing skills does not count. Students receiving the failure label are growing in numbers and percent, all because the system measures selected knowledge on a one day standardized paper test.
Consider the parent who is having a problem with a word processor. On their own they can’t solve the problem. They have been collecting knowledge for years, but their knowledge processor is in hibernation. With any new gadget someone has to teach them, they can’t figure it out for themselves. Their thirteen-year-old boy comes to the rescue. He has limited knowledge, but he knows how to processes available information. He explores the word processor problem until he finds a solution. He is not unusually smart, this is a teenager’s natural approach to finding solutions.
All young children have a natural talent for creative process of information. It’s during the teen years that natural creative processing is replaced with the status quo. The status quo memorizes knowledge and forgets how to process it. In the classroom, memorizing is what counts. Standardized test reinforces the status quo. It kills creative processing ability. Status quo attitudes will follow them into adult life where they will have to ask their children for help.
Today, the education has a new tool on the market. Behavior control drugs. Any student who refuses to accept the status quo is labeled a troublemaker and will be drugged. The student now behaves in the classroom with glassy eyes and school officials receive high performance ratings. The student may get passing grades and land a job with a comfortable wage, but that will be all. Teenage dreams of great ambitions are gone.
Fact: Self-made millionaires are not "A" students in the classroom. The way they process knowledge is in conflict with classroom priorities. The self-made millionaire has a vision, then he researches specific knowledge, applies intuitive knowledge and process all elements, searching for a workable solution. Finding alternative ways to do common tasks makes millionaires. The secret is vision, research and processing, not pre stored knowledge alone.
The typical employer wants employees with dictionary knowledge, not visionaries. They want employees who follow orders, are willing to do repetitive tasks, be happy with a limited role, and accept the status quo. Repetitive tasks' is efficiency and this is where profits are made. Also, accepting the status quo prevents the exposure of blunders by leaders. Too many blunders and profits disappear. In a status quo environment visionaries become bored quickly and soon receive the troublemaker label by offering alternatives or exposing blunders, sometimes leading to dismissal, yet, their ideas increase efficiency and create new sources of profits for the company. In the long haul, visionaries are the one’s who make above average wages no matter what their formal education level. The education system now has the tools to kill off this type of person, behavior control drugs! As these students move into the workforce, status quo and blunders will kill off the typical business.
What can be considered a quality education? A quality education is custom design that addresses the unique abilities of each student and has a positive emotional experience. Custom education evaluates natural talent and how the student learns. This is why home schooled students out perform classroom students. Parents learn what works and does not work, then focus on what works. With this method, students develop a love to learn and learning becomes a lifelong process.
What type of education environment, do you think, will produce consistent winners?
Note: As I write this, e-learning is becoming an education model that the present system cannot compete with. It is focusing on what motivates rather than what the system thinks is good for students. It is also leaving out politicians, textbook industries, testing companies, and unions. These forces are now fighting back, trying to maintain a system that is in their interest, not the students. At this time, they are focusing on standardized testing, which seems to be a last ditch effort to maintain the status quo.
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