It’s time we stop worrying about yearly achievement scores and start worrying about our children’s futures in fuller ways.
Achievement defined by the popular Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is “to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life,…”*
Hmmm. The current goals for the CCSS have been adopted by 42 states that pretty much measure success using just reading and math scores. Nothing wrong with that, I don’t suppose, but mere basic skills seem a little limited for powering life success.
NOT that schools have to carry the entire load, but it feels like half of the human is unnecessarily missing there. There’s nothing about being a good friend, a good spouse, a good neighbor or a good person. We all know so-called successful folks who are none of these things…and business failures who are all of those things. So, the CCSS offers a very nice partial education.
As college fades and careers grow grey over time, lifelong learning and personal growth take on increasingly deeper significance as measures of one’s success. Lifelong learning –
“…the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment.”**
Personal fulfillment. That’s it. Are our schools helping kids prepare for everything but personal fulfillment? If that’s missing in how we go about deciding success, what possible difference could a high score on the state tests mean?… or a low one for that matter?
No one, certainly not I, would argue against a strong preparation for college and career success. However, the effort to help youngsters engage creatively with other kids and manage their own educations while finding, nurturing and living out their individualities, is a worthy addition.
Merely achieving lists of skills could leave our youth planted in fertile ground for destructive midlife crises and the depression that can come from ignored and unrealized individual potentials. Merely meeting the expectations of society is really not much of a prize.
Active, pursuit of one’s personal curiosities is the engine for a life’s individual achievement. Developing long-term friendships and finding one’s social niche can provide the glue to hold a life together when things get rough… And at some point they will get rough.
Learning solid self-determination might be a nice addition to the goals of such an education. So sending children to the library to bring back any book is not the same as sending them to the library to identify their heroes, to stick their nose into unexplored possibilities for themselves, to discover like-minded friends and just maybe to find lifelong passions. “Find a book you think you will like” isn’t much guidance for connecting children with avidly reading to find what’s in their heart of hearts.
If we can ensure that children learn to really use the library for life, the careful historians, great thinkers and magnificent authors and brave artists of all time are waiting there to light the way to personal fulfillment for them.
We have to do this.