But, finally, it is just hypocritical to think educators can
make such a paradigm shift without changing all the systems of assessment that
judge the success of our teachers and students.
That's why I decided to devote an entire chapter to "How We
Measure." All the methods of assessment
we use for "quality" are actually metrics for standardization analogous to the
punch clock, not about interactive,
synthetic, and analytical thinking and problem solving. You cannot reform the content or the method
of teaching without radically changing the terms of assessment. That means ending the end-of-grade tests
required by No Child Left Behind. It means going beyond so many of
the quite simplistic quantitative measures that ostensibly test learning but really test the ability to take tests.
I actually tracked down the archive of the
PhD student who invented the multiple-choice test in 1914, specifically to
address a historical moment: the convergence of new laws requiring secondary schooling,
immigrants flooding into America in record numbers, men away fighting in World War I, and women working in
factories. Frederick Kelly looked at
Ford turning out Model Ts on assembly lines and invented the Kansas Silent
Reading Test to be the Model T of testing -- not very thorough, not deep, a test
only of "lower-order thinking," but easy, sound, fast, efficient.
I am not against
testing -- I am against using such a crude form of testing, one that is such a
disincentive to deep interactive learning, as our national standard. That's demoralizing to teachers, parents,
school administrators, and, mostly, to kids. In so many ways, our educational
system is an assembly line churning out kids like Model Ts. That's not what our kids need to address the
constant changes and complexities of the 21st century.
Though we don't know what those 65 percent of jobs will
be, you do sketch out a rough idea of what the future workplace will be like
and what skills workers will need. Can you describe that future and what
you recommend doing to prepare for it?
Let's not even try to imagine the future. Everywhere around
us are new kinds of employment that didn't exist a decade ago. In fact, if you look back a decade to what
people predicted we'd be doing now, almost everyone was wrong. Very few people, including those who invented
the Internet and the World Wide Web, understood the impact crowdsourcing would
The term "crowdsourcing" was coined only in 2006 and Wikipedia defines it
as "outsourcing tasks traditionally performed by an employee or a contractor,
to an undefined, large group of people or community (a "crowd") through an open
call." Wikipedia, of course, is itself an
example of crowdsourcing and no one predicted that without remuneration, as
volunteers, millions of people all over the world would create the largest
encyclopedia the world has ever seen, and would work to edit it to make it
better, more reliable than any existing dictionary. No economic, intellectual, pedagogical theory
predicted Wikipedia. "Human nature" a
decade ago wouldn't even allow such a cooperative venture, and yet there we
have it. And so much of contemporary
life is now crowdsourced -- including the free and open source Web browser Firefox by Mozilla which has
taken over nearly 30 percent of the world-wide usage share of Web browsers.