In a Washington Post column, Ted Dintersmith argues the schools are doing anything but.  He's primarily taking on the teach-to-the-test obsession that turns young people into morons (in the old clinical sense) incapable of handling any challenge that isn't presented as bubbles to fill in.
Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, in “We’re Losing Our Minds,” conclude that far too many college graduates can’t “think critically and creatively, speak and write cogently and clearly, solve problems, comprehend complex issues, accept responsibility and accountability, take the perspective of others, or meet the expectations of employers.”

The debate about the purpose of education ignores the elephant in the classroom. We have wrapped up our schools in rote memorization, low-level testing, and misguided accountability — preventing them from achieving any real purpose. It’s a fool’s errand to debate whether students are better off memorizing and forgetting Plato’s categorization of the three parts of a human’s soul, the quadratic equation, or the definition of the Cost of Goods Sold.
Let's be careful how we proceed, people.  Essays comprise paragraphs made up of sentences using words.  Thus the rules of construction matter.  Mechanisms are aggregations of simple machines organized purposefully.  Thus the rules of construction matter.  And I keep going on and on about football being blocking and tackling, and music being intervals, chords, sequences.

Thus, yes, teaching only to the test, when the test is a dumbed-down test, is a recipe for quashing inventiveness.  But inventiveness without structure isn't productive either.  Dear reader, spot the neglected actor in the following passage.
For the most part, life preparation occurs through experiences outside the classroom. Kids learn social skills by being around other kids. They develop passions and competencies through an after-school club or program.  They learn the value of teamwork and dedication through athletics. Or they get encouragement from an adult who believes in them, and elevates their aspirations.
We used to call that developing the habits of the middle class.

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