The definition of education guiding mainstream schools today is that education is the delivery of knowledge, skills, and information from teachers to students. While the above metaphor—education as a delivery system—sounds reasonable, it misses what is most important about education. This mistaken idea of what true education is and how it can be achieved is the root problem in mainstream education today.
This conception of education contributes to harming students and teachers by driving policy makers to insist on accounting for the “units” of information that students demonstrate knowledge of on tests. The perceived need for mass scale standardized outcomes leads to a kind of instructional bookkeeping that drives administrators to control teachers’ behavior, which in turn is directed to controlling students’ behavior in ways that increases symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other forms of diminished psychological well-being.
Student outcomes as measured by tests bear little relationship to true education, and so the instructional bookkeeping scheme is a failure even before the harm it causes is taken into consideration. [[SIDEBAR: Check out my video about Waiting For Superman to see how the delivery metaphor was presented in that movie as an utterly obvious truth for mainstream audiences, much to my chagrin.