Monday, August 15, 2011
Teaching is a gift that fills me with immense gratitude but there are aspects of it that make me want to scream. And as my summer days drift away I've realized how long it takes to heal from those occasional beatings.
The 2010-2011 school year was probably the toughest in my 15 years because the pressures of teaching to the test instead of teaching to learn have seeped into even our school, formally a bastion of authentic exploration and child centered learning.
We are all feeling the pressure of the American educational system which creates an environment wherein passing standardized tests is considered the Holy Grail. We are stepping away from trusting that teachers are capable, experienced and knowledgeable enough to tailor lessons to meet the individual needs of each child. Instead scripted text books and programs are becoming de rigueur.
Stripping educators of the right to be creative artists and forcing us to become homogenized, one size fits all automatons devoid of intelligence is insulting and infuriating. All the while the test makers, who also create the text books needed to pass said tests, are happily counting their money. It's all about making a buck - not education.
And the situation does not seem as though it is going to improve any time soon. Our students thrived academically this past year. They really did. But I mourn the fact that we did not have time to engage in deeper explorations as we have in the past with our investigations into the hot dog stand, the library, the bakery, hotels or teeth.
In the 2011-2012 school year I am committed to find a better balance between the hearts and minds of our students. It is not an easy challenge but I am determined to fight for the rights of children who are paying the price of losing their childhoods stressing over achievement instead of taking in the small wonders all around them.