That is the question —
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
– William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
Our Kid who will be sitting the SMA national exam today, tomorrow and Wednesday, and will therefore be coming to the end of a dozen years of suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous schooling. It is certain that he has enough pencils to fill in rows of circles marked A, B, C and D, because that is all he’s been doing during the current school year.
He hasn’t learnt anything new because everything has been geared to reinforcing the sets of knowledge inculcated by his teachers in the past school years in order to maximise his grades.
Taken from umpteen practice tests, teachers use these for assessment purposes and we parents are handed computer printouts which give percentages of each tested subject.
That Our Kid has a stash of 2B pencils is but one indication of how well schooled he has become, much like the performing monkeys, the tethered topeng monyet now banned by Jokowi from Jakarta’s streets. The most creative part of his ‘education’ has been in working out the intentions of the test setters in writing the questions.
Because he’s on the cusp of being free to leave the family nest, and Our Kid becomes Our Lad, my immediate role is to teach him how to fly in safety. There’s a big wide world to explore, and I want him to go where he will and where the wind blows him with his mind’s eye wide open. We can but wish him a good life, full of curiosity, creativity and communality.
From my standpoint as a both a teacher and a parent I have often – too often – posted here criticisms of what I came to call the ujian monyet. I hope that this is my final rant against anti-standardised tests, but suspect it won’t be.
I’d be happy to leave the subject to others.
We need to stop thinking of our brains as filing cabinets, and treat them more like the creative, indulgent creatures that they are.
– Tristan Verboven, editor in chief of The Class Struggle.
The entire schooling system with its emphasis on assessment and marking is geared towards the end result: the grade rather than the content, and this inevitability led to a feeling I would have been better off going home to study independently.
– Harry Cunningham, currently studying English at Loughborough University in the UK.
Therry says that “the education system in [Indonesia] has taught us all to do things as told. There is too much time spent copying down and memorising useless facts, [but] not to do things because we are passionate about it; or because we want to know how and why things work.
“We are never taught to think, to solve problems, to question, to wonder, to challenge and to argue [against] what is already there.”
In the USA, teachers are banding together to boycott standardised tests. Many “can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children.”
See FairTest for similar campaigns.
The goal needs to shift from one of making a system that teaches children a curriculum more efficiently to one of making the system more effective by inspiring lifelong learning in students, so that they are able to have full and productive lives in a rapidly shifting economy.
– Steve Denning
If we first teach children how to learn, they will not only learn the ‘basics’ but more and in much greater depth.
– Tony Buzan, inventor of mind maps
Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything learned in school.
– Albert Einstein