questions or answers?

Questions are the most brilliant way to learn things. It has been said that when students ask more questions than the teacher, that is the definition of success in a classroom. I myself have too many questions and the older I get, the more experiences I gather, the more wisdom I accrue, the more questions I have. I think this is a good thing, and I certainly hope I can transmit it to students.

However, too much of our educational system is about answers. In the form of a number. And a class rank. We do such a disservice to students to lock them into numerical measures of success and tons of science indicates that what and how well students learn decreases when they are graded, but still the system persists.

What is the actual point of formalized education, then? If it is for students actually to learn, we would do whatever supports that goal, but unfortunately it is not. What is the actual goal? I don’t know exactly, but it seems to have to do with controlling the population. Don’t forget that the one of the reasons the original public schools in this country were conceived and created was to turn young people into better workers (ergo things like factory bells between classes).

If we actually revamped this system to create young people who can think for themselves and question critically, would that threaten the status quo? Would it threaten those in power? Is that why we don’t do that? Is that why standardized tests continue to prevail, even in the face of so much research showing they don’t actually measure learning?