What do you want?

A friend of ours posted this article from the Washington Post yesterday. The Post article largely relies on a piece by Arthur H. Camins, and in my opinion rightly so.  Mr. Camins explores two essential questions that should be driving the dialogue about education and teaching: when do you persist to do your best and what kind of experience do you want for children in school?

It’s that second question that has been on my mind. And the experiences that my students – “my” children – have today is nothing even close to what I’d want them to experience.  In the last 10 days, 17 of the 23 have endured 2 days of standardized English Language Learner (ELL) ACCESS testing in reading, listening, and writing PLUS an additional one-to-one test session to assess their speaking skills. When we finished up last Thursday, even the native speaking kids applauded!

We’ve also had to test all of our students using Scholastic Math Inventory, District Benchmark, Unit post-testing, next unit pre-testing, and Scholastic Reading Inventory.

Lately it seems that if we’re not actually taking a test, we’re getting ready for one.  This is definitely NOT what I’d like my students to experience. Can we put the No. 2 pencils down now?

What would I like?

More time to play at recess. Social skills and executive function notwithstanding, such little time at recess means kids don’t have a chance to blow off some of that pent-up energy.

Opportunities to teach inquiry based science and social studies.  With all due respect to a former superintendent of schools, no, children do not learn science by reading a textbook.  They need to discover it.

A chance for a do-over when it is needed. Not every one “gets” a concept the first or even second time around. Lock-step learning is dumb on so many levels. When the children have a natural curiosity about exploring a topic we are in the midst of, we should be able to continue down that path without fear of falling behind.

Accountability is here to stay. I get that. But between the constant assessing, distrust of teachers as professionals who know how to do their job and the climate of privatization of education, have we allowed the bean counters to take all the joy out of learning?

I want my students to learn love learning and to question. That is what I want for “my” students.

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