Well, this is depressing, but worth the read.
Over at Inside Higher Education, John Warner shares a reflection on a recurring research project he performs with his own college students. If they could receive an A in the course in return for doing absolutely nothing except keeping the secret that they had done absolutely nothing (no assignments, no showing up for class, no nothing at all), would they take the deal.
Roughly 85% of Warner's students say yes, they would take the deal.
When they ask what the trick is, Warner points out that they would learn nothing. They're okay with that.
An “A” is an “A,” and “A’s” are good because they help their overall
GPA. It would mean more time to dedicate to their other classes. They
could sleep in later. They do not like English classes and would
therefore dodge the unpleasantness of such a thing. They could check off
a requirement without having to do any work. They could take 18 instead
of 15 hours and be closer to graduation. They could pick up an extra
shift at their job.
Warner's conclusion? Students are not coddled; they are defeated.
We have divorced school from learning, and this is the result.
For most of my students, the purpose of school is to do well in
school so you can climb the ladder to the next part of school. I am
giving them a free pass at school, so it would be silly not to grab at
And many of you who teach are nodding your heads, thinking, "Yes, that sounds about right."
I'm not going to blame this on reform. Students like these have always been around-- I went to college with a whole bunch of them.
But ed reform leans into this. Reformster philosophy is what education would look like if "reformed" by the same students who would take Warner's deal. Students attend K-12 to get "college and career ready," which just means they need to get A's in K-12 school so that they can get A's in college so that they can land a good job. That's literally our administration's plan for ending poverty. It is surrender. It is redesigning schools so that we can focus on getting a good grade so that we can get more good grades so that we can get a paycheck because that's what will help really rich people get more money which will raise their score in the success game.
Actually learning something? That's only useful if it will get you a good score on the Big Standardized Test, and while we are supposed to pretend that the BS Test score is "proof" that you are a Good Grade Machine and maybe learned something, the learning is not as important as the BS Test grade, and if anybody could get a high score on the BS Test without learning something, they would probably take that deal. Not only would they take that deal, but the reformsters would cheer the "success" of reform.
Meanwhile, reformsters are trying to align the ACT and SAT and college itself so that Warner's ladder to nowhere stays in place and the rungs are all Standards-aligned.
I don't know how we put learning in the center of education, just as I don't fully understand how we arrived at a place where trying "to put learning in the center of education" is even a thing that needs to be discussed. But boy do we need to figure it out.