Tony Wagner, in his book, Most Likely to Succeed, asks the question; “What is the purpose of education?” In reviewing mission statements much like our own, he observed the answer centers around these key priorities:
- teach students cognitive and social skills;
- prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens;
- build character;
- help students in process of self-discovery;
- inspire students through the study of humanity’s great works;
- prepare students for productive careers.
Most school divisions have instructional initiatives similar to ours: extend the rigor of daily classroom instruction and assessments to ensure the incorporation of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and encourage creativity. When you ask, “how are you accomplishing that and how do you know you are making progress?” Most schools struggle with an answer. Since many school leaders and educators believe it is impossible to accomplish these other goals and teach the state tested curriculum, our students often do not get the opportunities for self-discovery, problem solving by collaborating with peers, and displaying their creativity within a project or authentic learning experience.
We need to ask the question, “do we continue to teach to a test or do we teach students how to become life-long learners and teach them skills needed for career and global citizenship?” As we continue to discuss what we value for our children, I believe this will be an easy answer. The more difficult discussion will in how to effectively incorporate these skills into the curriculum. I look forward to working with you to provide a quality education for our children that includes all we value.