I'm not sure that this is the right place to put this discussion, but it's the best that I could find, so here goes: I'm gradually becoming greatly concerned about the increase in formalized structures regarding schools and education. As I see it, this is occurring in both Australia (with mySchool, NAPLAN etc) and the US (NCLB, Race to the Top etc) as well as a lot of other countries around the world. The reason for my concern is simple: this increased accountability, removal of context, insistence on standardization and stricter, narrower curriculum to enforce higher literacy and numeracy standards (which don't often eventuate) is actually doing our students a disservice. Basically, I'm a firm believer that, like Dewey suggests, democracy is not a static process; democracy must be constantly fought for - and I mean much more than simply voting, or choosing not to. However, traditionally, schools served as places for students to learn the skills to enact democracy. They learned to debate and argue, question, challenge, protest etc etc. However, certainly in Australia, and starting at a young age, we are gradually removing these opportunities, replacing them with an insistence on more literacy, more numeracy, more practice at taking tests so that we can prove students have learned something that we can measure, regardless of its value. Has anybody out there seen that happening in their school? What can we do about it? Perhaps PBL might offer the answer? Can anyone give some examples of PBL or other work that supports the growth of active citizenship? I know that this can be quite an emotive topic; please accept my assurances that I am seeking an honest discussion - and some ideas! I have no intention of offending anyone. Keith.
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