Nikki Adeli stands before a packed audience in Philadelphia. She’s junior in high school, and yet, she’s been given a national stage to propose a call to action for herself and students like her. Her message is very similar to Seth Godin’s, for us to contemplate: what is school for? And more specifically, are the standardized tests we use as a nation to delineate success and intelligence really the best indicator of potential?
Adeli says it’s not. Studies have shown that an alarming number of 44% of middle to high school students don’t feel a sense of self-worth at school. The tests designed to measure their worth as a citizen and future member of the workforce only cater to those built to operate a certain way: good test takers. Good memorizers. And yet, history has shown us that many of the most innovative minds of our time did not do well in school. Einstein. Darwin. Edison.
Adeli’s argument is that Scantrons don’t measure higher-order thinking. They don’t measure creativity or innovation. This, according to Adeli, is not congruent with what she believes school is for. “The value and the purpose of schools is to grow a citizen. And this citizen is to be a multitude of personalities; it’s someone who’s open-minded, knowledgeable, someone who in the long-run can give back to their community… However, if we are as diverse as Philadelphia is, as diverse as a country we ARE, why are we putting kids into standards to reach, for them to then fulfill any sort of potential they might have?”
So what can we do? Adeli’s solution is simple: give tomorrow’s future a voice today.
“Multiple times we hear policy makers and politicians say: we want our students to do well so they can take over our spots one day, and to come up with policies that improve our society and the global economy. However, not even once are students in classes-- in boardrooms-- making decisions about their own education.” She goes on to add, “We want our students to be the future leaders of tomorrow. But how about making them the present leaders, the leaders of today? And the only way you’re going to do that is by investing into the present. And if you invest into the present,” Adeli smiles, “I rest-assure you, the future will take care of itself.”