#Intentional: Education is NOT a Competition

It´s testing season.  Those who follow this blog with any amount of regularity (its ok, I don´t follow it with any real regularity either) know, I HATE testing season.  All focus regarding LEARNING is out the door and the universe as we know it becomes this ¨prepare them¨ center of zombie-like insanity.

Case #1:  My co-worker has a teacher friend at another school who is currently about to yank the last 3 hairs out of her head.  She teaches an AP English class and one of the students has a D.  The test is coming up soon. The parents are in ¨what the hell you gonna do to ¨save¨ our child¨ mode.  You know the scene.

As we sit and shake our heads at the apparent problem in this situation, my co worker laughs and says, ¨You´d think the parents would be asking all the questions they´ve asked [the teacher] to their child, wouldn´t you?  I mean, she´s a junior in high school, this is her second year of taking AP classes, she knows how rigorous it is, it looks like she´s either not that great a writer or slacked off for some reason and now she´s in a panic.  Why wait til 4th quarter to freak out over a test?

Good question.

Case #2:  As I came into the building this morning, I passed the bulletin boards full of bar graphs and pie graphs set up by the administration lauding the progress of our middle and high school students in various academic areas.  I noted a new one on the wall.  As part of OUR panic about ¨the test¨, the reading teachers have been ordered to reteach various topics like point of view and theme, then test the students on their understanding.  One problem.  One teacher is writing all the tests and the first test wasn´t even announced to the teachers until the day before it was administered.  The scores reflect that.  Anyone without this prior knowledge of incompetence on the part of our  leaders would think wow, only ONE group of students knew this topic (the ones that belong to the teacher who wrote the test)

This same co-worker ranted for 20 minutes about this bit of stupid.  I just shook my head.  After all, I teach science. Science isn´t important (during testing season). She and a couple of other reading teachers complained about what happened, they now help write the review tests.  I wonder if we can get the false data poster off the wall soon?

~~~~~

I tell you these two stories to have you reflect on this: When did education become a competition?  Why?

The argument that all the test scores are a reflection of the teaching abilities of the educators administering them is crap; if they´re being used to justify a ¨raise¨, HA, good luck with that.  The argument that the scores are supposed to be an impetus to motivate the students is also crap; we discuss scores with students all the time.  The vast majority of them could care less.  This isn´t because its not important to them, but because there are so many more urgent things going on in their lives than whether or not they know how to pick out point of view in a damned story that´s was so dull that it literally hurt their brains to read it.

Let me stop.

Education is SUPPOSED to be about the love of learning and wanting, desiring, thirsting to KNOW new things. It has been reduced to a non-ending series of starts and stops as students start getting excited about something only to have to set it aside to ¨prep¨.  Last year, the science and social studies teachers had to actually stop teaching science and social studies to help teach reading, writing and math.  WTF.  I resisted this year.  I actually teach reading and math skills all year.  No one seems to notice, and that´s ok.

Sigh.

So, consider the questions.  Make note of what is happening in your little corner of the educational world.. and ask people… when did education become a competition?

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