One is that money allocated for schools from state and federal funds based on test scores and attendance rather than the health of our children drives educational decisions. If our children drove the decisions, then we wouldn't care what politicians, textbook companies, and educational agencies demanded and would create more chances throughout the day for unstructured outdoor play for children to explore, create, and socialize. Research shows that the fundamental requirement for any child is to move. The brain will then work efficiently for learning to take place. Instead, these powerful entities demand that we extend the day, sit for longer periods of time, and continue to prepare for a test. So far, the test scores continue to lag, the children continue to burnout, and the spark of life continues to go out.
Second, we have become so consumed over the past 30 years with comparing ourselves globally to other countries academically, that we have lost sight of the fundamentals of life. It's really not all about a test score. Through teaching to a test, the children have lost the ability to critically think. It's bigger than a test score. We learn much in life from social experiences, solving problems with different solutions, and making mistakes. We can not truly measure what children learn through a test score. We have a generation of children presently who are afraid to fail, have high anxiety and stress, cannot finish something they start, have no regard or respect for life or people, and want something for nothing.
The only way to change the educational problems we have is to trade quantity for quality of curriculum we try to cover in a year, allow students to explore through play, teach character development regularly, and redefine the rigidity we have grown to embrace in the classroom and on the playground to a more explorative environment. Language arts, math, science, & social studies should be balanced in a child's world with physical education, art, music, languages, and technology. All of this content is important, but more does not equal better in this case. As Aristotle states, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thinking that we have to have language arts, math, science, and social studies every day is the wrong way to think. The collection of experiences is greater than each experience alone.
We have the answer for changing the structure of the school to embrace unstructured outdoor recess, adding character development weekly, and backing off the amount of curriculum needed to be successful academically. It's the LiiNK Project. The results are in and they are very good.