Once upon a time my school espoused the Reggio Emilia philosophy of "Nothing Without Joy" but these days the signs should read, "Nothing With Joy".
Once upon a time we began the school year by asking children to share their hopes and dreams. That respectful approach has been replaced by terms such as, pacing calendars, rigor and fidelity to the program.
Once upon a time it was "let me catch you doing something right" and now it is "let me catch you doing something wrong".
It is a monumental shift.
But it is happening all over. Our happy, little school tried to remain above it all but resistance proved futile.
I find it interesting that the literacy and math curricula advocated by the New York City Department of Education was created by the very same folks who wrote the Common Core State Standards. How is this not a conflict of interests? They create a list of standards that must be adopted by the schools and then conveniently offer up their programs to support it. And in order for schools to get funding they must buy said programs. Is that ethical?
Teachers are continually threatened with the ominous "letter in your file". It reminds me of my friend who went to Catholic school and was constantly warned by the nuns that the smallest infraction would leave a lasting mark on his permanent record. He grew up terrified of this blemish on his permanent record until one day he thought, "Huh? What the hell does that mean?"
Maybe it is time for a change.
But then I think...I need to be there to keep some sense of balance between learning and enjoyment for these children. If I let them down that would be a stain that I cannot bear on the permanent record of my soul.
So, I soldier along finding moments of joy where I can and hoping all this too shall pass.