There’s a lot of talk about what should be done to fix education in America, like increasing federal funding, decreasing class sizes, increasing teacher salaries, and investing in better teacher preparation. These are all nice ideas, but they’re totally abstract and conceptual. They’re not things any modern country could actually do.1

If we really want to fix American schools, we need more Learning Outcomes. Learning Outcomes are the things that captivate children. Learning Outcomes help children to identify, comprehend, and synthesize their dreams.

When I was a child, my teacher took us into the woods in the fall and let us collect leaves. She showed us how the leaves caught the sunlight and magically transformed it into energy. Then she explained how the season’s waning light resulted in chlorophyll breakdown, which caused an explosion of pigments that created the kaleidoscope of patterns and colors we held in our hands. It was like stepping inside a story where the leaves were characters who lived in a fantastical forest.

We all hated it. I’m so glad that my own students’ only knowledge of photosynthesis will be mediated by bright, jargon-filled Learning Outcomes and Google Slides. Instead of having to contend with a crimson-colored maple leaf and the fresh snap of dried leaves, my students will fall in love with action verbs such as “apply,” “analyze,” and “evaluate.”

And as their teacher, I am so grateful not to have to get sucked into their little delights or to concern myself with watching and waiting for that fractional second when their eyes spark with the recognition of connection, with the epiphany of coherence.

None of that is magic anyway; it’s just brain schema activation. We need to stop being so romantic about it, and Learning Outcomes help us to do that. Learning Outcomes do away with all the emotional nonsense and require us to codify and document and tabulate. Who needs magic when you have Bloom’s Taxonomy?

I don’t know whether my students will remember my name, and I don’t care. But I hope they’ll remember how my Learning Outcomes made them feel. I hope they’ll remember that when they were lost, I was right there with my Curriculum Map and that I could explain concepts like redundancy and matriculation and alignment and how the Curriculum Map linked everything together in a way that accounted for pedagogical gaps and strategic continuity. Children love strategic continuity. It makes them feel safe.

And safety is most important. Or maybe accountability. Or scalability? Capitalism? Why did we implement this system again? It doesn’t matter. I’m sure everything is clearly stated in the Learning Outcomes, so it doesn’t matter whether I understand it. I’m just a teacher.

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1 Except for Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.