These days we are awash with ideas about educational reform. Not since the days of Sputnik have we seen such a concentration on the way things are being or not being done in schools. We are moving from Leaving No Child Left Behind to a Race to the Top as we continue to look for the magic fix for the schools that are supposedly dooming America, its people and its economy to be second rate as compared to the new world powers of China and India. So what are we going to do to fix our schools? Test more? Make schools and their employees more accountable? Give them bonuses based on student achievement as measured by tests? “Counsel” bad teachers to find a different profession due to the lack of achievement by their students? Now don’t get me wrong, accountability and transparency are important. We spend too much money on education not to demand the best teachers and achievement for our students. But when I hear that we need to cancel field trips to explore science concepts, or skip going to a museum because the teachers need the time to prepare the students for the high stakes exam, I know that we are losing focus on what is important! We are not teaching students to ask questions that produce a deeper understanding of materials. We are not creating enthusiasm for subjects by allowing students to soak up experiences that they find engaging. We are simply allowing our students to have shallow learning experiences that cover a set of standards that have become increasingly broad and so far reaching that any attempt to cover them is superficial at best. What we need to reform is what we expect our students to know and be able to do. From my point of view, we ask students all too often to work only one way with information. That is to store it and to regurgitate it in the same form it was given to them on a test. A skill that has little value outside of the classroom except for maybe on Jeopardy! We must work to shift expectations in education! We must realize that learning can and must take place outside of the time and place constraints put on in the traditional school! That learning is not dependent on the institution or the set of standards set arbitrarily by some committee. Learning must be more independent and self-directed. Literacy has to become more than just reading and understanding the content, it is learning to learn, to use information to solve problems and collaborate. We need to inspire our students to be less dependent on the teacher and more self-directed, motivated by an understanding that learning is a lifestyle not something you do while you go to school.