Another legacy of NCLB

Each week, Symposium provides a blogging forum for the week’s featured article. This week’s author is Prof. Linda Essig. You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter @LindaInPhoenix.Tens of thousands of freshman are starting at colleges and universities this week. Today, I’ll meet the freshman class in my own department. Most of these are eighteen-year-olds whose entire primary and secondary education was governed by No Child Left Behind. These are students who have been taught that questions have one right answer, and they have been indoctrinated to believe that if they don’t know it, the fate of their entire school will be affected.

This high-stakes testing affects the way these students think and, most importantly for the faculty, the way they learn, which is what I discuss in my article. The laser-beam focus on STEM education (short-hand for science, technology, engineering and math) over the last five years, coupled with budget cuts that disproportionately affected arts programming, mean that these students, like their Chinese counterparts about whom I wrote, may never have an arts experience, and with it, the opportunity for open-ended creative expression.

The next four years will be challenging ones for faculty in humanities and arts as these students work their way through the higher education system. Hopefully – and with a nod to W.B. Yeats — the faculty will be able to not only fill their buckets, but light the fires of their creativity.

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