Making Workers, Not Thinkers
This letter was prompted by the extensive article in The Sun Aug. 29 regarding Exit Outcomes as being installed in our schools. Let me state up front that I am not a member nor supporter of the Citizens for Quality Education group. However, the omissions, flaws and philosophy of the program are too significant for me to ignore.
I must start with the omissions of the seven outcomes. What bothers me is that only one of seven bears a direct relationship with education, that being the goal of "able communicators."
Able communicators have a command and understanding of the English language. As such, able communicators are, indeed, a desirable outcome.
But as an educator, please provide me an explanation of the following: The process of teaching English is a combination of learning the language, the vocabulary, the grammar, the style, the comprehension of the written word, the joy of reading and familiarity with great authors. Of these factors, only the first three need be considered in assuring an able communicator. As I am sure you will agree, an educated person is, and has been, a reader. Where is the Exit Outcome that exalts reading? Where is the Exit Outcome that measures the understanding of human nature achieved by reading a great novel?
In your own words, the Exit Outcomes are not about dumbing down the curriculum; they provide a "clear focus." Please tell me how in the world our graduates will be educated if the measurements of their success do not include a "clear focus" on literature and reading?
Another lamentable omission from the proposed outcomes is a grounding in the arts. The arts, i.e. paintings, sculpture, architecture, music, dance and literature, are the only true survivors in the history of man. Armies, nations, political groups, businesses, and yes, even educational systems, have come and gone, but the arts live on.
Yes, I read where a second grader will be "introduced to major artworks." Realistically, if a thorough grounding in the arts is not included in your desirable outcomes, such teaching will become less and less important as time passes and concentration upon the "big seven" Exit Outcomes consumes the school system.
A third omission is, to me, equally outrageous. Where is the Exit Outcome that measures the student's knowledge of history? Only by stretching to the point of ridiculousness can I associate that knowledge with "involved citizens." To paraphrase a famous quotation, a person without knowledge of history is doomed to repeat it. Please, pray tell, where is the Exit Outcome that focuses on history?
I could make similar points about the omissions of a working ability with basic mathematics, sciences and geography. The seven Exit Outcomes have little, if any bearing, on these realms of academia. . . .
What purpose does the group of seven outcomes accomplish? They certainly don't prescribe an educated graduate. They define a person ready to enter the economic world of the United States in the late 20th Century. Please tell me when it became the goal of the public school system to turn out acceptable employees for American businesses? . . . By making the outcomes so tilted toward the economic human being, the system must eventually lose sight of the real goal of public schools, which must be educated graduates, rather than collaborative workers and innovative producers.
Incidentally, please try to picture a world without the contributions of these very non-collaborative workers: Mozart, Steinmetz, Copernicus, Ford, Curie, Edison, Van Gogh, Bartok, Dali, Einstein, etc. The only way to assure "innovative producers" is to educate them and give them full rein. Genius will make its way after that.
However, the single largest flaw in the concept of the Exit Outcomes is that there is no adequate method available to measure these goals. How in the world will you quantify "positive self-concept" or "lifelong learners"? Against what "clear standards" will they be judged? . . .
Ivan S. Sherman
In June, the Carroll County Equestrian Council sponsored several events to participate in a nationwide promotion of recreational trails dubbed, "National Trails Day." Gov. William Donald Schaefer issued a proclamation naming June 5 "Maryland Trails Day" as well.
We submitted an entry to the "Trails for Tomorrow" Awards Program, sponsored by DuPont Cordura, and were chosen as one of 10 winners from over 2,500 participating events nationwide.
On behalf of the Carroll County Equestrian Council, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the cooperation and support of The Sun. The local media provided excellent coverage for our events . . . .
Albert L. Biddison
The writer is president of the Carroll County Equestrian Council.