School should not be a place where teachers and administrators make students jump through arbitrary hoops, memorizing things that could not possibly matter in real life. How does a student tell the real things to be worked on, the stuff that matters, from the junk, the stuff that is part of the curriculum because no one ever thought about it much, or the stuff that is part of the curriculum to help make teachers' lives simpler?
One way to improve matters is to allow students to have some say in their own education. I do not mean by this that students should be part of curriculum committees. Students are not prepared to determine what other kids should know any more than teachers, administrators, book publishers or cultural literacy advocates. But students can determine what interests them, and they should have the right to complain when outmoded teaching methods are in use.
For the use of students and teachers everywhere, and by way of summing up the real issues in education, I present the Student's Bill of Rights:
1. Testing : No student should have to take a multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank test.
2. Real-Life Skills: No student should be have to learn something that fails to relate to a skill that is likely to be required in life after school.
3. Memorization: No student should be required to memorize any information that is likely to be forgotten in six months.
4. Clarity of Goals: No student should be required to take a course, the results of which are not directly related to a goal held by the student, nor to engage in an activity without knowing what he can expect to gain from that activity.
5. Passivity: No student should be required to spend time passively watching or listening to anything unless there is a longer period of time devoted to allowing the student to participate in a corresponding active activity.
6. Arbitrary Standards: No student should be required to prepare his work in ways that are arbitrary or to jump through arbitrary hoops defined only by a particular teacher and not by the society at large.
7. Mastery: No student should be required to continue to study something he has already mastered.
8. Discovery: No student should be asked to learn anything unless there is the possibility of his being able to experiment in school with what he has learned.
9. Defined Curriculum: No student should be barred from engaging in activities that interest him within the framework of school because of breadth requirements imposed by the curriculum.
10. Freedom Of Thought: No student should be placed in a position of having to air his views on a subject if the opposing point of view is not presented and equally represented.
Where am I in the content of the book?