I recently found an interesting website that covers the history of the scientific method. It headlines that there is no one “official inventor” of a logical pattern of observations that lead to reasonable conclusions, but it does highlight many names (like Aristotle, Bacon, and of course Galileo) who added to its creation. What strikes me about these names however, isn’t their importance to modern-day thinking; it is the time period in which they became relevant that makes me marvel- 1,500 to 1,600 years after the death of Christ.
Few people take this period of time into its correct context. For many centuries, human thought was dominated by folklore, myth, faith, and raw logic. Sure, people found out that if they didn’t eat, they would starve and if they didn’t defend themselves from tyrants, they would be killed. However, they might not have known that if they bathed in the same river as their infirm community members, they too would become sick. In their innocence they were blessed to survive on their God-given gift of human intuition, but cursed to suffer because of their lack of scientific understanding.
Why is this important to education? Well, in these post-scientific method times it seems as if everything we do as teachers must have the precursor “The research says…” attached to it. Data as a result of constant academic probes and tests has poured over in troughs upon us to the point that I wonder if we are losing our grasp on the essence of education- the raw talents that spawn from our students’ intellects.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should eliminate formal assessment all together. It is a necessary and valuable tool for all schools and personally, I like knowing that modern medicines exist to cure the ailments of those who suffer. My quandary arises when “data driven instruction” compromises “teacher discretion,” which I believe to be the soul of effective teaching.
For thousands of years, humans have benefitted from their giant intellects and creativity. In today’s educational world, however, I’m not so sure we are capitalizing on these God-given gifts as much as we could. The constant assessment has the potential to show us our students’ understandings on a surface level, but it can also obstruct truth.
I’m not sure I like those odds.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!