a photograph by Sonja Bingen
U.S. educational policy today emphasizes “informational text” and performing well on standardized tests based upon a “common core” of knowledge. The academics, businesspeople, and politicians who insist upon such nonsense have clearly forgotten what learning is all about. My two daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, both teachers, remember how their love of learning was originally sparked, so they are actually teachers who work to instill a love of learning in their students. If the educational theorists would take a vacation from their heavy thoughts and the hieroglyphics of statistics generated from assessment data and spend some time in Sonja’s classroom reading with her students beneath a blooming fruit tree in early spring, perhaps they would remember that it is not knowledge, but an entertaining book or an excited teacher capable of waking a young mind that leads to learning. Maybe then they would stop all the unnecessary testing and pontificating and begin to give teachers the support and freedom they need to generate the drive to learn that enriches those lucky enough to have lost themselves in a book on a gloriously sunny day spent outside in the school’s yard.