As a teacher in the SMF Schools, I am one of so many frustrated with the testing going on in our schools.

We have all heard the quote, 'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." So, why do we focus so much on standardized testing, rote memorization, proficiency, and state report cards, instead of what kids are really learning and what they are able to do?

What can we do to counter this testing madness? What can be done to keep students engaged and excited about learning? One avenue many teachers are trying to implement are lessons focused on inquiry based learning. The definition of inquiry based learning is "a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios--rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge." We need children to explore subjects, increase their curiosity, for students to go beyond what is required for "the test" so we can encourage deeper learning They are our future doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses, chemists, writers, leaders. The world is much bigger and there is so much more to learning than "these tests."

Inquiry sparks curiosity, which leads to questions, which leads to wanting to know why/how/what for. Students begin to take ownership of what they are learning and to forge their own paths in the classroom. Students become the experts in answering their own questions. Quality inquiry based instruction allows students and teachers to interact in a way where everyone is learning something new. The greatest advantage of curiosity lies in its power to motivate learning in areas of life and work that are meaningful to the learner. It points students toward the knowledge, skills, relationships, and experiences that they need to live full and productive lives. Students can and will succeed with methods other than testing. Advocate for this type of learning for your children. Stop talking. Start doing.

Trina Poole, Kent