To be ignorant is to be American. It’s an arguable statement that U.S. education proves to be truer as the years transpire. As we become more blinded by our pointless attempts at achieving educational perfection, we are creating a fabricated intelligence. And in doing so, we are embedding rudimentary skills into a millions of students and passing it off as learning.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that between 2009 and 2011 the eighth-grade science scores rose from 150 to 152. We can all agree that K-12 education is like a cute puppy drowning in the rapid thrashing of whitewater; people notice the poor pup but no one wants to dive into that twirling hell-hole.
The fight would be a push against teachers unions, anti-evolutionist, and No Child Left Behind. In an attempt to protect teacher’s jobs, we have sacrificed quality; and the fear over non-religious theories have plummeted the U.S into the dark ages. But the most frustrating and the most damaging are standardized testing. No Child Left Behind has formulized learning into a series of A through D answers. Creativity and critical thinking are abstractions from a lost decade, where teachers evaluated students based on written sentences; and where the answer had to be conjured within the mind, and not strategically chosen.
The Central Florida School Board Coalition released a report, “The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on Our Public Schools.” The coalition discovered that standardized testing is not only costly, but also prevents students from learning valuable skills, “Teachers spend a disproportionate amount of instructional time on academic skill development. 21st-century skill development, such as creativity and problem solving, or social and cross-cultural interaction, must take a backseat to test preparation and testing.”
The result is a manufactured intelligence cemented in calculability. Much like a scantron, the knowledge we are envisioning is limited to what is seen. According to our education system, intelligence can be measured, calculated and scored like a sport. But while a sport may be artfully executed it is also limited by restrictions. Intelligence is not always limited to a space full of rules and regulations, but it may in fact use creativity and critical thinking to break or bend conventional wisdom. Although the U.S. is falling behind in math and science, we are actually falling from the grace of ingenuity.
We have sacrificed ingenuity for educational perfection in which every child must meet a criterion of acceptable intelligence then booted out with a standard issue diploma. But perhaps our biggest failure is also the oldest failure.
There is a chasm between the old and the new; we have been slow to blend traditional teaching methods with new advancements. Today, we can a swipe our finger across a screen and hear a song, call a friend or find a restaurant. We live in immediacy and educators must now teach a generation of computer-savvy, smartphone-carrying students. We are wrong to educate the 21st-century technophile like the 18th-century farmer boy. The oldest failure is the failure of adaptability, our education methods have failed to adapt to the changing times brought on by the Internet.
I say to be ignorant is to be American because we are educating students to be naïve to topics because they will not be covered in a standardized test. But we are also ignorant to the reality of our future. We may be envisioning a nation of Mensa members living in pearly white metropolises, but the reality is that we may become that once innovating nation that is now void of its greatness.
Nidia Sandoval is a third-year history major. She can be reached at email@example.com.