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[Susan notes: The letter writer draws a strong conclusion that doesn't get mentioned enough: Read the last two sentences aloud 10 times.]

Published in Boston Globe
05/16/2005

To the editor

SCOT LEHIGH thinks it is ''Time to raise the MCAS bar" (op ed, May 11). But instead of blindly pushing more and tougher testing, we should ask ''what is the purpose of education?"



To do this, consider that the amount of human knowledge is doubling every few years, and it is already so vast that no one could possibly learn even a tiny fraction of it in four or eight years in school. Consider that the knowledge that a young person will need to be a productive person and citizen over his lifetime cannot possibly be learned in advance in any period of four or eight years. Therefore, logically, the purpose of education cannot possibly be to acquire knowledge at all, but rather to prepare students for lifelong learning.



Lifelong learning will come if a student develops a thirst for learning, a will to learn, the confidence that she or he can learn, and some skills in how to learn. MCAS and other standardized testing does not develop any of these; it is more likely to kill them.



We should junk the testing, study what does contribute to lifelong learning, build new innovative schools, hire more creative teachers, reduce class sizes, and put more responsibility on young people themselves to seek, plan, define, promote, and develop their own learning and that of their peers. And, for goodness sake, don't ''raise the bar" on MCAS testing. That would further discourage all but a small, verbally proficient elite and further drive up the already scandalously high dropout rates.

Michael Brower


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