Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ultimate Paradox: Teaching Vs. No Child Left With Any Sort of Creativity or Drive At The End Of Their School Career

This subject may seem a bit mainstream for the Adventures of a First Time Father Blog but my wife and I are both teachers in the public school system and with having a child that will someday enter that system, it makes you think.  (In fact, we thought about it this very weekend)

At this exact moment, if Rory was of age we'd rather not send him to public schools in Florida.  I know it sounds horrible considering we both teach amongst the palm trees and practically all of our friends do too, but lets be honest, the reason we wouldn't send him there has absolutely NOTHING to do with the teachers. 

It's the suits.  The state.  The ones in charge of deciding it's cool to cram everything and the kitchen sink down their little elementary aged throats and then test them incessantly on skill after skill until they can all chorally repeat the main idea of a story, why the author wrote it, and dissect every inch of that story and then relate it to their life.  Don't get me wrong.  Knowing these skills are all good things.  But, can't we leave it at that?  Teach as hard as you can and let the children progress at their own developmental age.

No.  Of course we can't let kids learn at their own pace.  We have to set a bar that every kid MUST jump over.   And oh for kicks, let's make it a pass/fail bar so if that little 3rd grader can't pass this test, then we'll just retain them and make them do third grade all over again.  

But maybe you're thinking, well, all the kids do need to know how to read and comprehend and well if they can't do it, then maybe they should be held back.

I forgot to introduce you to your class:

Suzy- She is a great student.  Always listens.  Reads every night with her mom and dad.
Bobby- Quiet.  Is still blending the sounds of words together in 3rd grade.
Dale- Thows tantrums.  Distracts everyone.  Shouts out.  Pulls things off the wall in fits. 
Ricky-  Doesn't speak English very well.  No parent support.
Connie- Dad's in jail.  Grandma's doing her best to raise her.  Distracted.
Paul- Low income.  Only speaks English in school.
Bill- Super nice.  No parent support.  Struggles with academics.

Now Teachers :  Let's see if you can get all of these kids to jump that same impossibly high bar.

 If you do, you're school gets funding, you get paid more than the average teacher this year, and all your kids pass.

If you don't.  Your kids get held back, you get less pay, and the State will come to your school, and probably force all the kids to stay at school an extra hour a day, and tell you to only teach the specs for the test.

But... what about the kids?

I wonder if I should apply this to parenting.

Now Rory.  You are almost 6 months old.  Now sit there and let me tell you how you will be able to crawl. Then I want you to memorize that and then when I tell you to crawl, you are going to do it.

Okay.. Crawl!  Why are you sitting there?  Crawl!  I don't care if you aren't ready to crawl yet.  You have to do it right now!  You are so behind!  Crawl now!  No!  Stop putting stuff in your mouth!  Stop trying to explore the world at your own pace!  I said crawl, right now!

Could you imagine anyone talking to their babies like that?  Then why do we have to teach that way?

I firmly believe this program has taken the creativity away from the children and their desire and drive to accomplish anything.  We need to let kids explore options and subjects they have interests in.  Reading skills are great, but can't kids progress and learn in the way that suits them?  Isn't that what teaching is really about?  I don't want my son to be zapped of creativity.  The world is at his fingertips.  Why should he begin to hate learning because he's forced to be a high achiever on a standardized test?

Moral of the Story:  I love teaching, and I love my students!  I just am not impressed with the system.

Comic by Bitstrips

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