|If a social studies teacher|
gets more students to read more,
does anyone in the forest
hear the pages turning
if it isn't on the standardized test?
I suspect your reaction might be similar to mine: Who'd have thought it would be that high!
Then again, 12% of Americans still approve of the job Congress is doing. So you figure some people are just more forgiving.
Why is it, then, that teachers hate standardized testing? Is it a case of hiding their deficiencies? Or is it a concern for real learning?
Let me try a few examples and see if any of this makes sense. Start with the terrible attacks of 9-11. Imagine that those events occurred this morning. Should a social studies teacher (as I was) take time out in days ahead to discuss the tragedy?
In a standardized testing world the answer is obvious.
The answer is NO.
In fact, it would be a grave error in education today to focus on current events. Standardized tests cannot reflect current events. "Sorry, kids," a good teacher in 2012 would wisely say. "We're going to be discussing the Townshend Acts, instead."
(No joke, there: That was in the standardized curriculum the State of Ohio designed and used for American history from 2004 to 2009.)
OR: TRY THIS. I REMEMBER KATY, in my World History class. Katy had Down Syndrome and to complete a project requirement I put in place for every student, she did a decoupage of the Mona Lisa. With the help of our very fine Learning Disabilities teacher, Katy got up in front of fourth period and answered basic questions about Leonardo da Vinci and her work. When she finished Katy looked proud and her class did something I had only seen once before. They gave Katy a standing ovation.
Standing ovations, though, don't prepare anyone for standardized testing.
I had failed again.
Let's go back again to consider 9-11. For weeks, following that tragedy, the New York Times ran brief biographies of every victim of the attacks. I read them, day after day, and almost always cried. One was about a woman who came from England to visit her brother. On that fateful day he asked her to come to see where he worked and they went up to the the restaurant, Windows on the World, at the top of the North Tower. They were there at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane struck. They were trapped there. And they died there together.
So, call me a crappy educator, because, I'll be honest, if 9-11 happened today, I'd still focus on current events. I'd still tell that story about the woman from England.
I'd still be a terrible teacher.
One final example and my shame shall be revealed and complete. I admit that in those September days, now a decade past, I had a young girl in class, Jenab, who was Muslim. I could see it every day that she was wondering, "What do my classmates think about me now?"
I confess I forgot that only standards mattered. I made it a priority to make clear to a 12-year-old girl that no one in their right mind could ever hold her accountable. It didn't hurt that Jenab was one of the sweetest, smartest kids I had in class that year. It wouldn't have mattered if she wasn't. Fool that I was, I thought my duty was to address the needs of every child in the best manner possible.
SO, YES. I CONFESS. I was a terrible teacher.