Letter: Teach to the future, not to the test

Classroom chalkboard. Classroom chalkboard. Photo Credit: iStock

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I believe we are teaching for yesterday ["Challenging teacher tenure," Editorial, July 10]. Our educational system is rooted in a century-old model that straddled the agricultural and industrial ages. Jobs were plentiful, and most didn't require academic skills.

Educators were primarily those who succeeded in, and liked school, so they sought to maintain, not revolutionize it. Modest adjustments, like new math and whole language were ridiculed. The school culture was static and resistant to change, even as society was undergoing broad upheavals

Women started working. Latchkey kids rode yellow buses to empty houses. Race, poverty, immigration, dysfunction, politics and divorce all entered the schoolhouse.

Knowledge proceeded to double by the decade, as workers saw the lifelong career platform fade into a new employment world of musical chairs. The curriculum expanded slightly, but survived largely intact. Our world went digital, but our thinking stayed analog.

Even as we employ computers, smart boards and iPads, we clutch onto much of the yellowing curriculum and methods as if they were the owner's manual to success. Global comparisons scare us into action. But what to do?

We sense that something is wrong, but, rather than considering an educational revolution, we prescribe a program of evaluating and intimidating teachers. Regrettably, a reasonable definition of schooling has become the study of things that help one get through school, not life. We have spell-check. We need think-check.

As schools vigorously teach to the test, they should be teaching to the future.

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Bruce Stasiuk, Setauket

Editor's note: The writer taught for 34 years in public schools.

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