School has become a race. Students might not be “Racing to the Top” but they are increasingly racing against a clock. Go into almost any school and watch kids being timed on almost everything as a means to prep them for the almighty standardized tests. Somewhere along the line speed has gotten mixed up with intelligence, and our children and country will pay dearly for it.
The real and pressing problems that confront us as a nation have no simple or speedy answers. They are messy problems that often require more research, thought and careful reflection. They require patience and perseverance, and more than anything the ability to learn with and from others. To the point, these real world problems have no easy or quick solutions. In fact, usually easy or quick solutions only contribute to the problem.
Go into a school and watch kids being pushed to answer questions or problems as quickly as possible. Watch them being pitted against a clock, their academic ability assessed on speed rather than depth or breadth of thought. Haste makes waste, and sadly our country’s current obsession with turning school into a race epitomizes this. But all hope is not lost. For while our schools may be completely neglecting their responsibility to help students to develop the deep and reflective habits of mind that will serve them as productive members of a democratic society, they are doing a bang up job prepping students to succeed on Jeopardy.