Don’t test me, teach me!

blog-TEACH-ME-300x300I’ve never been a big fan of mandated state testing, No Child Left Behind (preferring No Child Left Inside, but that’s another story) or teaching test-taking strategies to elementary-age school children. Something about these things just seem to be missing the mark.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization comprised of leaders in business and education, as well as policymakers, dedicated to figuring out how to best prepare our students for the 21st century workplace and world. And luckily, they are on the right track with what we should be focusing on when educating our youth. Their framework is based on the idea of integrating the 3 R’s and the 4 C’s. We all know the 3 R’s stand for reading, writing and arithmetic, right?

But what are the 4 C’s?

See how these key skills are nurtured in our green house.

1. Creativity and Innovation

Laura took our Flower Parts project a step further by adding a pollinator that she made, as well as suggesting we create a base for our flowers. Reusing became a part of our project!
Laura took our Flower Parts project a step further by adding a pollinator that she made, as well as suggesting we create a base for our flowers. Reusing became a part of our project!, and the students flowers soon found themselves in miniature habitats!

2. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Trystain analyzes his class plant and constructs a method to eliminate a pest issue.
Trystain analyzes his class plant and constructs a method to eliminate a pest issue.

3. Communication

Alex and Aidan work together to differentiate and classify varying leaf shapes.
Alex and Aidan work together to differentiate and classify dissimilar leaf structures.

4. Collaboration

James and Max devise an assembly line-style system to effectively sift soil.
James and Max devise an assembly line-style system to effectively sift soil.

The 4 C’s are not only difficult to teach using traditional methodology, but they are even  harder to assess via mandated state testing, which has become de rigueur.

Doesn’t it seem like common sense that creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration are higher-level skills that should be cultivated? Dr. Benjamin Bloom, who penned Bloom’s Taxonomy back in 1956, in order to promote higher levels of thinking, certainly thought so. His ideas have endured  for decades and are still taught and embraced by educators today across our country. The Partnership’s four C’s all score in the higher domains on this table.

An administrator of mine from years ago told me succinctly, “Education is on a pendulum. The theories go back and forth.” I can only hope that we are headed away from test scores and back to the more important point of education – learning.

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About Green Chimneys Garden

Green Chimneys was founded on the belief that children will benefit from their interaction with nature and animals. Horticulture comes to life in our educational school gardens, allowing Green Chimneys students to heal, learn, and grow. Learn more about about our nature-based approach to special education by visiting www.greenchimneys.org
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