We have made education, as has no doubt been noted before, mercenary in nature. Students buy their success by performing specific tasks. Accordingly, learning has effectively been stripped of both its beauty and its intrinsic value. Standardized testing, high-stakes examinations, and quarterly grades all detract from what we should be pursuing in schools. They train students (and their parents) to believe that education is nothing more than a purchasable reward. Thus, the teacher, who rightly recoils when asked if such-and-such an assignment is worthy of credit, has no line of defense. Even the most well-intentioned and high-minded appeal to the intellect is reduced to utter pontification. The villainy taught has been executed, and they, the students, have indeed bettered the instruction.
Eliminating our present evaluative system would do much to reverse the suffocating climate in many of our schools. This change requires neither an exceptional degree of innovative thinking nor a supplementary allocation of funding. What it does demand, however, is the recognition that the process of learning is intangible and immeasurable. When we attempt to quantify that which is unquantifiable, we destroy.
Education as Ritual
Uncovering Standardization's Depths
By Christian M. Bednar