Letter: Education Should Fan the Sparks

To the Editor:

American education is in danger of being hijacked by a bunch of left-brain gurus who believe everything can be measured — including your child’s creativity. These folks want to convert our public education into a sending-source system for STEM — the science, technology, engineering and mathematics effort pushed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his hand-puppet, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

To this end, they have lured 46 states with $5 billion in rewards to join Race to the Top, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The prerequisite for getting into this “race” is for each state to adopt a national curriculum masquerading as “21st-century standards” called the Common Core. The Common Core promises to measure every child’s progress toward becoming “college and career ready for the 21st century.” This pronouncement is doublespeak. What they (the left-brainers) mean is that they want to turn public education into an Information Delivery System. They even believe they can turn the humanities into information and measure the delivery of literature, poetry, art and music.

Of course, since the Common Core is brand new and has never been tried out or even been measured itself, it really cannot promise anything at all. It has no track record, as noted educator Diane Ravitch has pointed out.

By the way, we already have an Information Delivery System. It is called the Internet. If education were simply delivering information, we could save trillions of dollars by keeping kids at home locked in their rooms socializing with computers — a sad utopia indeed — one that was tragically and maniacally played out in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

Education is not about information, it is about inspiration. As W.B. Yeats put it: Education is not about filling-up, “education is about catching fire.” And as any good educator knows, you don’t “measure” a spark — that might extinguish it. You fan a spark. And you can’t fan a spark unless you see it in the first place. That’s what school is for.

Paul D. Keane

White River Junction