Friday, January 14, 2011

What should we be teaching in schools?

What should we be teaching in schools? This BusinessWeek article challenges us to contain (hardly a word I would have chose) cheating in schools.

As a professor, I believe a more relevant question is what should we be teaching in schools?

One of the proposals the author makes is to ban take-home exams. Why? Well, it should be obvious. By being allowed to complete the exam without the professor or proctor hovering over your shoulders to make sure you weren't accessing any digital device or reading crib notes scribbled on your arm, wrist, palm or item of clothing to find the correct answer you would be come a better human being.

To me that is "old school" thinking. It is a product of "Gotcha" testing designed to encourage students to commit by rote memory worthless facts with the mental shelf-life of a gnat. Just long enough to complete the exam or get it wrong and have the Professor say "Gotcha" with that question and prove the professor is the superior intellect because they have a computer generated answer key.

Personally, I would rather the student learn to master the skills of finding information and embracing evolving technologies so they are better prepared to function in life outside of the classroom and become informed participants in our participatory democracy in the United States.

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