Robert Frost is famous for poetry and one of his most famous is, of course, “The Road Not Taken”. The beauty of any poetry is that there are times in a person’s life when little phrases from the poetry pop into your mind. They give you wisdom at time when you need it, patience, hope, encouragement and many other things.
Many times in my life a phrase like ” Patience is a virtue for which we should all strive” (Job) pops into my head or “Me thinks he doth protest too much” (Shakespeare) or “and that has made all the difference” from Robert Frost’s “A Road Not Taken”.
Education in our national society is undergoing huge changes and stress. (No big headlines there!) There is a real dichotomy between what people think should be taught and what people think is being taught.
We are at a crossroads I think and need to decide which road to take. Do we go down the road of “back to basics” and focus on test scores as measures of “achievement” and then pat ourselves on the back when students score well but really are not ready to be productive and happy, well-rounded and educated members of the adult society or do we resist the monetary “carrots” of basing student achievement on test scores and look at students as people and in need of learning how to be communicators, collaborators, critical thinkers, creative and happy and productive members of society as they grown into adulthood?
A study reported in the front page of the paper today said that arts education has declined steadily starting in the early 1970′s when the “back to basics” movement in education began. The result has been a decline in adult appreciation for the arts and for continued support of arts education, particularly in minority groups. Did we really need to pay for a study to confirm this piece of “duh”? On the other hand, since there are people driving education that are afraid to sneeze unless there is some study or report out that shows the data, it maybe it would be worth it if it had the impact of waking up the educational systems to the realization that arts education is a dire need. It may be harder to measure it’s worth or impact, especially when only looking at short term data, but that most definitely does not diminish it’s worth, need and impact on students.
We need to educate the whole student. They are not little robots that schools need to just input data into and have them spit out the correct answers when the test calls for it. In my heart I don’t think the educators I know think that either but somehow the system is forcing educators to teach that way.
Which road will you take? ….It will make all the difference – in a child’s life!
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