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Letter: Curriculum Is Not The Classroom

I am certain John Owens can respond to the recent critical letter faulting his opposition to the imposition of the new core curriculum in New York State schools. I support Owens’ position. The writer assumes Owens opposes excellence because he describes the psychological factors present in every learning environment. Intelligence and the willingness to apply it are individual endowments. They need the proper atmosphere. A teacher’s job is to provide those conditions favorable to learning. Owens’ insight in this regard is commendable. Excellence cannot be imposed, least of all by bureaucratic fiat nor corporate competition.

 

In order to achieve the learning atmosphere in the classroom, we must alter our design, in both time and content. For example, some students should be permitted to graduate high school in two years, others should remain for six. The intervening time being subject to individual commitment and accomplishment. Some students should be permitted to leave and resume schooling without penalty. Curriculum should encourage talent. It needs flexibility. Education is a vehicle of opportunity for all. Our laws guarantee it, our curriculum does not. You cannot and should not train every student to be an after-dinner speaker.

 

Testing is not an evil. Excess testing is. When it is overused it blunts motivation, stunts academic development and curiosity. The need to know is reduced to its bare essentials of what is on the test. The test should serve learning. Learning should not serve the test.

Testing is also necessary since admission to education involves opportunity. Evaluations are not only advantageous, but necessary.

 

William T. Plunkett, Ed.D.