One of the most common rationales offered by advocates for transforming our education system is that we need to remain competitive in the global economy. This is typically followed by alarming data that shows we’re being surpassed by the Japanese or the Germans on some list of math scores or literacy levels.
That’s fine if you’re a politician, but when I send my 6-year-old son off to school each morning, I’m not really thinking about the global economy. I want to know if he’s happy, if he enjoys learning, if his innate curiosity is being nourished, and if he’s getting along with others.
The danger of allowing the economic argument into the conversation is that it supports the notion that education is about external measurements like economic production, instead of internal growth. We get ourselves into trouble by viewing kids as means to an end (in this case, economic growth), by treating them in the aggregate rather than as unique individuals with their unique interests and life goals.
My friend Anoo Padte, an education consultant who writes an awesome blog called “The Art of Education,” offers a more articulate explanation of this idea in the video below.