Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher’s sweeping critique of Connecticut schools did, indeed, sound like an indictment of school failure nationwide. After decades of efforts to raise standards, few policy makers see the improvement they wished for. The major problem, I think, is that the entire standards movement has focused so exclusively on goals, scores, ratings and statistical outcomes that it has overlooked the most important consideration — the child.
Children begin life curious and enthusiastic about learning, but schools have failed to nurture their intense urge to learn. Experienced teachers know that much of their art consists of building on children’s spontaneous interests, but this art has received little appreciation in recent years. To improve schools, this must be changed.
The writer is a professor of psychology at The City College of New York, CUNY. He is also a member of DEY’s National Advisory Board.