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Where are We Failing our Kids?

OPB | Aug. 5, 2011 9:20 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:25 p.m.

Deborah Meier has spent nearly five decades as an educator — from preschool to college. The New York University senior scholar is in Portland to deliver a keynote address at an annual education conference. Her fundamental issue with the education system in this country is that, according to her, there is no single institution that’s responsible for educating children to become effective participants in a democracy.

Meier says the current emphasis on standardized testing can not only be a distraction to other important lessons, it actually discourages innovation and imagination. She’s written a new book on the importance of unstructured play. She says that’s essential for encouraging the kind of development that fosters creative and critical thinking.

What was your experience with being tested in school? How did you like to learn things? If you’re a parent, what do you notice about your kids’ experience being tested? How much do you trust those assessments? What other methods besides testing do you think we should use to gauge how well kids are learning?

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