Big Brother is destroying American education

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George Orwell’s 1984 is a cautionary tale about a government that polices everything citizens do, including how they think. The term “Big Brother is watching” was popularized by this classic dystopian novel. Big Brother is the party leader, who does everything possible to eliminate individuality.

Recent comments here at ROLE Reversal, on Twitter, Google+ and other articles and blogs got me to thinking that Orwell’s Big Brother and our current government may not be so different. One might argue that the notion that we’re being controlled by thought police is absurd, but consider the government’s role in education and its impact on educators.

The comment below, left on a blog post about the negative effects of homework, is a perfect example of the thought control that our government is creating with standardized testing:

“Sounds good, but my state says we Must finish x amount of concepts in the year, and be prepared for an end of course exam that determines if they graduate. I need every second of class time and the students need practice to get the ideas into long-term memory.”

I hear similar complaints daily in my own school, from colleagues scared senseless that their students won’t pass the test, subjecting the teachers to all sorts of state-mandated wrath. Don’t standardized tests force teachers to behave like thoughtless automatons, handing out practice test worksheets and homework day after day, as they spout “You must pass, you must pass,” mantras at their students? Or do they?

Most readers of Orwell thought his novel was, in fact, cautionary and that his plot was far too outlandish to ever come to fruition.

As we gaze into today’s classrooms and see one mind-controlled teacher after another, we must wonder if Big Brother isn’t alive and well today, controlling the thoughts and actions of teachers and destroying American education and the futures of our children along with it.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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