The real world is not neatly divided into subjects

It is not black and white, compartmentalised.

The problem with standardised testing is that it makes it so. It pulls subjects into narrow pathways and forces the way we learn to follow.

Think back to any school test you ever took. Did you prepare by deep diving into everything interesting surrounding the topic, following tangents that had no ends and that often just led to more questions than answers?

Or did you (at the very last minute, if you were anything like me) just zero in on whatever you felt the test would cover, that the marker would be looking for, and then spend time rote learning that?

And once the test was over, did you return to the topic before you were next required to for a test or grade? Or did that type of learning leave you with a feeling of, at best, apathy?

We are incentivised, by design or not, to stay the course on the surface. To prioritise our grades.

And so we put young learners in a box. We are trained – from so early on, now! – that the world is black and white, right and wrong, pass and fail. That it is about picking up enough detail to satisfy the expected requirements, not stopping to dig deeper.

But every concept, thing and person in this world has depth. It is all connected, related or intertwined with something or someone else. It is a beautiful mystery that’s crying out to be examined, questioned and explored. For us to discover its challenges and nuances. To push its – and our own – boundaries. To understand its connectedness, with us and others, and learn from that in meaningful ways. To solve its complex problems.

We will do little of that if our learning stays in a box. And we will do little of that if we spend our life on the surface.

The world has some unanswered questions for us. Let’s break down the walls so we can hear them.


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