I was thinking the other day about the problems with education. Specifically Science education. And guess what I realized. There isn't a problem with education. The problems lies in assessment. My wife has take three science classes at college. The classes themselves have been great, but English, and most especially scientific English is a foreign language for her. She is a native Spanish speaker, and in your average science class there are more new terms than in a foreign language course.
Still the science wasn't the problem. I watched my wife thrill at learning Geology, Astronomy, and Pre-Historic Biology just to get to the tests and have the same message reinforced.
You aren't good at Science
Why? Because the entire measure of how well she understood and appreciated the science she was learning was based on a multiple choice question with the bulk of the questions based around the lowest level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Knowledge. Basically, Can you memorize this and regurgitate it.
The problem isn't the Textbooks! They are actually good. The problem was not the professors who gave engaging lectures, fulfilling assignments and good materials. The problem is assessment. As long as there is only one thread the tapestry of understanding is going to be very simple. What every science class (and I would argue every class, and course) needs is multiple threads of evidence for understanding. Or in other words students can weave a tapestry demonstrating their competency, rather than a single color cloth.
Does this make things more difficult? Yes and No. Teachers and Professors can't distill everything down to just a few multiple choice questions that they offer for two days in the testing center, on the other hand their assessment can be more authentic and better match their assignments. We don't need to change Education we need To change Evaluation.
Flickr user: Mr. Embiggen