E is for..........Education.
As a teacher, I can't help writing about education on the blog from time to time. I really do love teaching, and I try to focus on the positive aspects of education, the relationships and interactions with students that make teaching a uniquely rewarding experience.
This has been a tough year to focus on the positive. My school is under a lot of pressure to improve our standardized test scores. I have spent more time teaching to the test than I would like, but our current reality makes it unavoidable. This means I spend a lot of time teaching kids how to analyze the mood of obscure poetry or how to find common themes in folktales from Norway and Japan. Both worthy exercises I suppose, but not exactly riveting for kids. I don't have a problem with standardized tests, but I do think there is too much significance placed on them. Our society has decided that kids are essentially the sum of their test scores, no better or worse than their data. It bothers me that this doesn't bother more people.
We've gone from Bush's No Child Left Behind to Obama's Race to the Top. It is now the educational policy of the United States to have winners and losers. The game is standardized testing, and the losers will be stuck with all the crap minimum wage jobs our politicians talk about with such pride. And to the winners, well, the way things are going, most of them will be working minimum wage too.
The US collectively wrings its hands about our standing in the world, middling test scores a sign of our impending doom. Bullshit. I'm not saying the US educational system doesn't need to improve. Of course it does. It's strange to me that the public thinks politicians are more capable of improving schools than teachers. You know, the people who actually care about kids as human beings, not just as employees.
Bit of a rant here. Thoughts?
I promise I'll be more positive the next time I write about education.