March 2, 2013
I have been following you on Twitter and reading your blog. Excellent, high quality research and writing. Thank you.
The current effort to reform public education is being criticized by you for the use of standardized testing, privatization of education and politicians making decisions about pedagogy.
The solution is not to develop better tests, but to tear down the No Child Left Behind Law high-stakes standardized testing regime, and use authentic assessments that are organic to the process of real teaching and learning. I believe System Dynamics is the process that meets this requirement. I believe System Dynamics is an inquiry based learning and teaching environment that is also a process for assessing both teachers and students.
I first studied System Dynamics one summer with teachers at a workshop lead by Diana Fisher and her colleagues at Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon. In 1997, I joined the effort to teach teachers and infect the public school system with our processes. That was when I had to really learn System Dynamics in order to teach teachers how to present dynamic modeling to their students. Since then I have spent many hours studying the pedagogy of System Dynamics.
As you have said, the attempt by politicians to quantify learning and teaching in a standardized manner is extremely expensive; takes up weeks and months of time in school; narrows the curriculum; undermines the intrinsic joy of learning; leads to a culture of corruption and cheating; and supports the privatization of public education. As a measure of student learning, standardized tests are a limited instrument. As a measure of teacher effectiveness, they are flawed.
Today, students are tested on what they know from the past and the skills for how to use what they know. System Dynamics enables us to understand why systems work they way they do and develop foresight about the future. I wrote a blog post titled “Why System Dynamics?” that describes a way of reasoning about why System Dynamics is important to public education (see hyperlink below). This article was published in the Creative Learning Exchange newsletter, Winter 2013 ( http://clexchange.org/ftp/newsletter/CLEx22.1.pdf ) pages 2 and 12.
We need a way to think, learn and communicate about the future. The current public school system does not meet that need when using standardized testing. System Dynamics has a pedagogy and testing regime that meets the needs of teaching and learning as a way to think, learn and communicate about the present and future of systems. Replacing standardized testing by developing an assessment of teaching and learning for teachers and students using System Dynamics would be a key step in the right direction.
From an economic, efficiency, ethical, logical and pedagogy perspective, System Dynamics makes common sense as an improvement to public education. However, the current education reform process does not support using System Dynamics.
What is it going to take to get System Dynamics in K12 Education?
Teachers are beginning to resist giving students standardized tests. States are opting out of the NCLB law. Charter schools are failing.
You are making visible the profit motivated, union busting, misinformation campaign by corporations. There might be an opportunity ahead for System Dynamics to step in and support public education by replacing the standardized test with inquiry based assessments of teachers and students using System Dynamics.
blog: Why System Dynamics?