Wrong about the Pacific Rim
It's a narrow path along a slippery slope that Charles Fadel et al are walking in the pages of Education Week. They argue correctly that today's children require an education that builds their problem-solving skills and creativity, and they're on mostly solid ground when complaining that NCLB fosters instructional practices that focus on a narrow, basic-skills curriculum. But when they suggest developing a set of standards and assessments that concentrate on learning "strategies" and not content knowledge, Fadel and his crew start to slide down the embankment. That their suggestions are based on shoddy thinking is evident, for example, in this statement: "Asians generally teach students how to apply knowledge to novel situations more successfully than do schools" here. We beg to differ. If American schools offer anything for Asian nations to model, it's that we turn out entrepreneurs and innovators in vast numbers (numbers that Asian countries envy). The U.S. should continue encouraging creativity in the classroom, but that creativity must be based on a broad, liberal arts curriculum that gives students a solid educational foundation. Creativity without content isn't worth much.
"Assessment in the Age of Innovation," by Charles Fadel, Margaret Honey, and Shelley Pasnik, Education Week, May 18, 2007