Would it be an exaggeration to say that education traditionally has focused on one question: Does the student meet our standards?
The second person plural of course referring to the educated, the establishment, the tradition. Follow that question from kindergarten through school, high school, college to job application and interview, and you see the contours of a society thoroughly complacent about the status quo and tradition. “If she can demonstrate that she meets our standards, we might consider letting her into our circle!”
On such a view of education and - indeed - the world, the role of education and assessment has been to ensure that the student leaves the school with the ability to meet established standards, and the grade has signified to which degree that is the case. An A simply means: we consider it more than likely that this individual will live up to the standards that you (as an employer or educational institution) has every right to expect.
Can we afford such conservative complacency in a world where the cost of data-processing decreases exponentially? Will companies in the future be able to survive by hiring people who are certified standard meeters?
"In the future an A should mean: This student is likely to challenge your standards in an interesting and qualified way."
Let’s redefine the A-grade. In the future an A should mean: This student is likely to challenge your standards in an interesting and qualified way.
On this view, the role of education can be formulated as Empowerment of Curiosity.
- fascination, interest, joy
- alternatives, criticism, challenges
- an open mind and a big “What if…”
- knowledge of foundation and tradition
- self-efficacy and independence
- method, procedure, cooperation
For the future of democracy, of science and of industry we need individuals with an empowered curiosity. Let’s change our schools to meet that standard.