Remember when teachers used to go to work and do their job without all the bellyaching? Every time you turn around they are complaining about something else – salaries, poor working conditions, undisciplined students, and all the time this standardized testing thing. What is wrong with today’s teachers? I don’t remember my teachers complaining like this.
For the most part, my teachers seemed to enjoy creating learning activities and then joining in with us in the experience. I remember one day when we spent all morning doing nothing but manipulating blocks, building imaginative cities where we had to bargain with one another to get what we needed to complete the metroplex. No one could succeed without working together. My teacher looked pretty proud that day as she walked around dealing out probing questions, which was always a good sign things were going well, and that meant we would get to do more stuff like this!
I also remember a teacher who tricked us into writing by introducing us to an old college friend (non-existent, I’m sure) who had more problems than any heroine on “Days of Our Lives.” Everyday, we would write letters to this friend offering our 8th-grade advice while listening to the melodic tunes of Dan Fogelberg. I remember realizing how difficlt it is to put your real thoughts on paper. Words only go so deep, and you have to use just the right ones combined with other “just right” ones to say what you really mean. It was a struggle, but we got there, and the teacher’s friend benefitted from our wisdom, I’m sure.
But what about the testing? Hold on, I’m getting there.
Every once in a while, not enough for me to even remember if it was every year or not, our teachers would tell us we would be taking some tests the next day and would resume our regular work the following day. There were booklets, pencils, and answer documents with cute little bubbles on them. The day was different, but not scary, and my teachers seemed perfectly at ease with the whole thing. We took our tests, and that was it. Back to learning the next day.
So, what’s wrong with our teachers? This sounds like a very honorable, fulfilling career, doesn’t it?
If the above scenarios remind you of your educational experience, then you are among the blessed. You received an education that recognized and validated your curiosity and allowed the time for you to discover academic truths that undergird a lifetime of success. Your child, however, is probably not so lucky. Her day is likely filled with packaged curriculum that has been “teacher-proofed” and geared towards standardized testing success – not life success.
This, you see, is what’s wrong with today’s teachers. Creativity has been sacrificed for mass produced uniformity, yet the only parties that benefit from such a system are those that require uniformity for measurement – think politicians and testing companies. Life and the careers that support life thrive on creativity. It’s like breath, and without it, life suffocates.
It’s time to let teachers breathe again. Let them be as diverse and creative as your children. As far as testing goes, sure, let it be done, but done reasonably. Stop allowing it to bully everything else off the field. You benefitted from such a system, remember? Your child will also.
Want to help?
If you agree with the above sentiment, contact your state legislators and ask them to reconsider the weight placed upon standardized testing, or if you live in Texas, consider signing the petition sponsored by Save Texas Schools, an organization focused on limiting the high stakes of standardized testing and restoring lost budget money to public education.
So much more to say, but I’ll save it for another day.