On a morning visit to a Northern California middle school, I saw not a single student. The principal showed me around campus, but I didn’t see or hear students talking, playing, or moving about. The science lab was empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an academic lockdown. A volunteer manned a table filled with cupcakes, a small reward for students at day’s end.
This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores. I wondered what kind of tests the students were taking. The California Department of Education’s STAR website has sample test questions, and I started looking through them randomly.
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This is how I learn. Our educational system does not provide any support for people that learn by this process, not even the higher levels of education and it seems that, as time passes, education becomes more abstract.
I believe that the maker movement is a response to this lack of more concrete educational methods.