Kristin I couldn't agree more. As a former headteacher I always tried to inspire children and motivate them to take charge of their learning through investigation and discovery. We focused on coaching children the skills they would need for the challenges we set them. Paradoxically it took more structured planning then the rigid state imposed system of over testing that you describe.
It reminds of overcooked veg. Limp with all the goodness boiled out.
Bachelard once said, "There are no first truths only errors." Yet those in power often view education a jug of prescribed knowledge the contents of which teachers must pour into a child's brain over a specific period of time.
I spent years developing an early years math program based on play and investigation and discovery. I was determined the children under my care would never suffer the negative experiences I did in my math lessons. The program follows the old Chinese proverb, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand". I developed some software to accompany it and my grandson and I love playing with it together. I fully intend creating a photo gallery of our constructions.
If anyone is interested the software is freely available on my blog www.helpyourchildsucceed.blogspot.com
There are also posts on the early stages of the program.
Thanks for a great post Kristin it's good to know there are kindred spirits out there in the educational universe. I am not alone!