Unruly R’s

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Editor;

In too many schools, the 3 R’s have become Rote, Regurgitation and Repulsion, requiring 3 additional R’s: Reinforcement, Remediation and Relearning. Misguided compulsive-obsessive robots are unduly programmed to teach for standardized exams, thereby meeting unrealistic prescribed targets based on test results that have little to do with actual intelligence, innate talent or capability to achieve. Standardized mindsets are, in fact, antithetical to the spirit and purpose of education.

Test scores as the dominant measure of educational success undermine the need to incorporate standards or goals that allow for freedom of expression, know-how readiness, logical problem-solving savvy, everyday coping skills, as well as abstract and creative thinking.

The most durable way to improve schools is to improve basic skills mastery, progressive methodology and IT-focused materials within a stimulating self-access, discovery learning environment. Emphasis should be on solid and secure well-run community schools offering a coherent set of clear options and achievable expectations of what children need to know to become contributing, responsible citizens making sound moral and ethical choices.

The challenge is how to design fairer and more effective testing procedures that can demonstrate student knowledge and understanding without the exam process becoming a dehumanizing experience. The role of teachers, as facilitators, should be to guide, enable and empower motivated students to respect multiversity, appreciate the unique autonomy of others and to treat everyone with respectful, compassionate dignity.

Dr. Charles Frederickson

Bangkok