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There’s more to learning than memorizing facts

Holiday celebrations are over. It is a new year and children and teachers are back to school. There is no doubt that security and safety of students will be a topic of debate. However, another educational issue of equal importance needs the attention of all New Yorkers. Educational reform based on teacher evaluations is a hot topic. State-mandated evaluations and frequent testing schedules are the keystone to educational reform. It is a reform trend that is politically charged, easily sold to the public but lacking basic understanding of teaching and learning.

Learning is not just memorizing facts, formulas and dates. It is about attitudes, dreams, conflicts, inspirations and discoveries. Periodic pen and paper tests cannot assess these developments. The impact of education sometimes exhibits itself long after one leaves school. Teaching to tests, ranking schools and playing musical chairs with teachers will harm schools in the long run.

I have spent more than 40 years as a teacher, school counselor and currently as a career adviser with the adult learner. My experiences have led me to believe that one standard does not fit all students. Communities need artists, engineers, cooks and plumbers. A single curriculum cannot meet the needs and talents of all students. The state’s current standards limit teachers from implementing creative learning activities and lessons. These practices can only result in more school failures.

There is a better way. Gather the collective wisdom and experience of veteran teachers. These may include many different teaching strategies that have been tried and perfected by thousands of teachers across New York.

The expertise of teachers should trump the bureaucracy of Albany.

W. John Kozinski

West Seneca