Diane Ravitch is an education expert I’ve long respected. As assistant secretary of education under George H. W. Bush and a member of conservative think-tanks, she was a strong supporter of No Child Left Behind. Now she’s come to believe the reliance on test-based “accountability” is a failure:
KS: What do you think about the role of wrongness in education? It seems to me that making mistakes is crucial to learning, yet by and large mistakes are discouraged and punished in our schools.
DR: We have reshaped the education system — largely through federal legislation — to an approach of “right answers, right answers, right answers.” But life’s not like that. We’re putting a tremendous amount of value on being able to pick the right one out of four little bubbles. But this turns out not to be a very valuable skill. You can’t take this skill out into the workplace and get paid for it.
I love hearing a policy-maker admit that she changed her mind and talk about how she got there. If you care about public education (or wrongness in politics), I encourage you to read the whole thing.
The interview is a year old, part of Kathryn Schulz’s series in Slate The Wrong Stuff, in which she interviews people about being wrong. It’s kind of brilliant, and I definitely plan to read her book, Being Wrong.
(Irritatingly, Slate’s formatting doesn’t distinguish between when the interviewer and the subject are speaking. I added the “KS” and “DR” above to make it easier to follow.)