In response to some big new push for testing schoolchildren, Mark Palko writes:
The announcement of a new curriculum is invariably followed by a round of hearty round of self congratulations and talk of “keeping standards high” as if adding a slide to a PowerPoint automatically made students better informed. It doesn’t work that way. Adding a topic to the list simply means that students will be exposed to it, not that they will understand or master or retain it.
Well put. In my own teaching, I often am tempted to believe that just putting a topic in a homework problem is enough to ensure that students will learn it. But it doesn’t work that way. Even if they manage to somehow struggle through and solve the problem (and many don’t, or they rely on their friends’ solutions), they won’t learn much if they don’t see the connection with everything else they know.
I’m reminded of the time, several years ago, that I learned that photocopying an article and filing it was not the same as reading it!