Our society has become so contentious. People don’t stop and think before saying hateful words, acting in a rash way, or casting their very valuable vote. I’m not guiltless. But I hope I’m the kind of person who can reflect on my actions, admit when I’m wrong, and learn from my mistakes. So often, in attacking “the other,” we forget the humanity of those who view things differently than us. In the past, Americans were so proud of this ability to work together despite difference, but lately we seem to have forgotten the skills of reflection.
For approximately 30 years, corporate reform in education has pushed for more and more standardized testing. Increased testing leaves no room in the curriculum for reflecting. We have a generation of children, now adults, who have little skill in this. Without the ability to reflect, there is also very little real learning done—not just how to bubble—but real, life-transforming education. The process of taking time to stop and look back over past actions in order to re-assess, allows for learning. And that’s the crux. Individuals have to re-assess FOR THEMSELVES in order to learn.
The funding for increased standardized testing also leaves no money for school programs that, by their very nature, incorporate reflection in their practice—visual arts, music and creative writing. Still the business financiers (who run school boards) aren’t happy. World Languages and Social Studies classes are now being cut.
Cutting World Languages at a time when our society is becoming more globalized is ridiculous. Cutting Social Studies, the very program that instructs our children on constitutional history, will leave us a society of people unaware of their rights and duties as American citizens.
But maybe that’s what corporate “education” reformers really want—a mass of low-wage workers who will not stand up to their bosses because they are ignorant of their rights and lack the ability to reflect on their situation.