Great Thinkers of our Time – George Carlin

WARNING:  The video below is explicit and there is significant swearing – so please don’t watch it if you are easily offended or if you are at work.  I decided to post it because George makes some very lucid points worth discussing.

While I disagree with much of what he says (such as education won’t get any better – I believe individuals CAN make a difference), he raises some interesting points about where the testing movement comes from.  The testing movement could be the worst thing to happen to our education system…..ever.  In an effort to standardize curriculum and outcomes, we have missed the forest for the trees.  I believe the purpose of education is to create critical thinkers who can make rational decisions.  Yet, the testing movement has teachers basing instruction on the “facts” instead of the thought processes.  Yes, kids need to know facts, but more importantly they need to know how to digest those facts and make sense of the tremendous amount of information at their disposal.  If we have students who can pass a standardized test, but can’t identify and solve problems we will only create fleshy computers – humans that store data but have to be told what to do with it.

Yes, we are producing fewer scientists, engineers, etc in the US than other countries, be our population is also significantly smaller.  Also, if our systems for producing scientists are so poor, why do foreign students flock to US universities for their higher education and struggle with the creative components of said education?  The United States’ strength has always been our innovation – creativity is not encouraged by memorizing facts and preparing for high stakes tests, creativity has to be given freedom and room to flourish.  I fear that we are measuring the wrong outcomes in our schools, and if we keep going this direction we will end up scoring very well compared to other countries (we have proven time and again that we are capable of almost anything we set about doing).  Yet, what will we have lost?  There is always a compromise.

I’m thinking of posting at a future date some strategies for manipulating the “standardized” system and jumping through the right hoops while still promoting all of the more important goals we have for students – so stay tuned.

The political part of Carlin’s act is at least entertaining and thought provoking, but I did not want to get too much into that.

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One Response to Great Thinkers of our Time – George Carlin

  1. Jeremy says:

    Rest in Peace, George Carlin.

    If you haven’t already, read “The Case Against Standardized Tests” by Alphie Kohn… While I don’t always agree with him, at least he gets the conversation started.

    As for creativity… many teachers are training the creative thinking out of our children… endless packets of worksheets are as bad for our kids’ minds as it is for our environment.


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