Our rock stars aren't like your rock stars...

Do you remember this amazing intel Ad from 2009? If not, or if you just want a good laugh, click here.

What I loved (and still love) about it is the idea of having intellectual rock stars. How many of us really would react that way about a professor, an author, or inventor? 

Back in the summer of 2009 my colleague, Katy Morris, and I went to an education symposium at the Putney School in Putney, VT. The campus was breath taking, the learning was to be interesting, we were going to sleep in dorms and feel like kids for five days...but why did I really want to go? Two of my education rock stars were speaking - Alfie Kohn and Howard Gardner!

"Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of twelve books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations."
"Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores."

"Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. He has received honorary degrees from twenty-nine colleges and universities, including institutions in Bulgaria, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, South Korea and Spain. In 2005 and again in 2008, he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world.  The author of twenty-eight books translated into thirty-two languages, and several hundred articles, Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be adequately assessed by standard psychometric instruments."

Alfie Kohn & Me

Me, Howard Gardner & Katy Morris

Howard Gardner on Standardized testing:
"Our analysis of the educational problems in the United States is very distorted. What does it say about the kind of a society we aspire to be, when we are analyzing our educational success almost entirely on standardized test scores in a few subject areas? Even the focus on global competitiveness, particularly with respect to test scores, is misguided. Instead, we need to focus on the kind of human beings we want to have and the kind of society in which we want to live. That is why, for two centuries, we have been much admired (and even imitated) around the world. Once we get that straight, I am not worried about our test scores or our rankings in one or another international ranking system."

Read the full interview here.

                                                  Alfie Kohn on the same topic:
"Standardized tests are extremely good measures of the size of the houses near a school. Study after study has found that you can predict as much as 90 percent of the differences in test scores without knowing a damn thing about what’s going on in the class-rooms. All you have to know is the poverty level, other measures of socio-economic status, or whether students have crammed forgettable facts and isolated skills into short-term memory."

"They don’t measure deep thinking; they don’t measure the ability to apply and connect disparate ideas; they don’t measure irony or creativity or decency. Test scores are not merely meaningless; the news is actually worse than that. Higher test scores generally are bad news."

"That’s true both at the individual level—because research shows that high test scores are correlated with superficial thinking on the part of many students—and at the aggregate level, because if a school boasts that its test scores went up, parents ought to immediately respond by asking what had to be sacrificed from their kids’ education in order to make that happen. "
"Little kids are being denied the chance to have recess; art and music programs
are being slashed. There are fewer discussions of current events, fewer field trips, fewer opportunities to read good books of the children’s choosing, fewer high school electives, fewer opportunities to do discovery-oriented science and interdisciplinary projects. The best is being sacrificed to raise test scores, and the news media uncritically report [high] test scores as good news."
Alfie has been saying this for years....read more here.

I don't always agree 100% with my rock stars, but where would we be without people like them to remind us to think critically, to question, and to challenge the status quo?



  1. I am an 8th grader, and completely agree with your blog. I strongly disagree with the law forcing schools to test students, which makes teachers do a lot of test preparation. I feel that this statement goes for many students out there as well. Also, I think that we should have the choice to opt in to take these tests, which I feel prove nothing. I am sure the data conclusion would show that most kids do not want to take them, and find them useless.

  2. Very well-stated, Jordyn! Thanks for posting your perspective on the blog!

  3. Hey Mrs. Schwartz, it's Sami, I was one of your students in the first year of POV and I was so glad to have had the experience! This is a really cool blog and I hope everything is going well at Welsh Valley!

  4. Hi Sami, thanks for writing! I am delighted that you came across my bog and honored that you like it. It looks like you are still thinking, questioning and caring about social justice. The world needs more kids like you! Hope you can visit us at WV sometime soon.


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