Saturday, January 26, 2013

* Simpleminded Educational Syrup from Vermont's Governor

Letters to the Editor
The Valley News
Word Count: 358
Dear Editor:

Governor Shumlin’s State of the State address dealt entirely with education. His two wise proposals were to fill the stomachs of school children before asking them to fire up their brains every day and to pour money into early childhood education.

 Hear his third proposal:

 “I propose that Vermont’s schools develop Personal Learning Plans that travel with each student from elementary through their senior year. . . .fostering a connection between school and career.

Had Shumlin controlled my education he would have forced me to drag this “PLP” around with me for twelve years which  adults would  hover over and fuss about making me so self-conscious that to get them off my back I would agree to anything.

The PLP is the latest gimmick of a society that has gone crazy in its worship of standardized tests which supposedly assess and predict a student’s strengths and weaknesses. 

The only thing standardized tests assess is how bored a student is with the test. The ones who thrive on being tested do really well; the ones who don’t, don’t.

I always dreaded tests and, even though I managed to get four college degrees, I always did poorly on tests.

Thank goodness colleges evaluated your ability to think in written papers and not in memorized data for tests or I would  have wound up making widgets on an assembly-line, an assembly line  which a Shumlin PLP surely would have prematurely shoved me into as a life sentence.

Human beings grow at different rates.  As every mother knows you cannot rush a rose. Professor Shumlin apparently knows better.

My rose didn’t blossom till I was 42 –years-old and wound up being an English teacher for the next 25 years at a Vermont high school.

Shumlin’s academic crystal ball  (PLP) would have had me walk the plank of life at age 16:  “Decide now, Sophomore Paul Keane, based on your 10-year-PLP, what you want to concentrate on for the final two years of high school, so you can ‘ foster a connection between school and career.’ ”

 Life isn’t an airplane trajectory.  It’s a bit more unpredictable.  And interesting.

 Thank heaven for that.

Paul D. Keane,
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

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