And so it begins…another season of standardized torture, er, I mean, testing. It makes me want to give a hearty Charlie Brown-esque AAaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhh!
So where was I??
I just get so annoyed with the whole process. And have yet to understand the point. My kids have been in school for some time now and it never gets less annoying. Anyway, it’s been a long while since I had a good rant here at the blog, so here goes…you have been warned!
My kids are stressed, y’all. The school puts too much pressure on these kids. The schools/school district/government/whoever…puts too much pressure on the teachers for their students to “perform”. And for what? Some kids simply don’t test well–cliche, yes, but it’s a fact. Some kids are not going to master certain subject matter whatever you do, however you teach it. These kids don’t know why they are taking these tests, only that they have to take them. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that tests such as the SAT and ACT, actually serve a purpose. And when you are taking a college entrance exam, you know WHY. When my kids ask me, “Mom, WHY do we have to take these tests?” It’s not an easy question for me to answer because I feel so strongly about it. And I don’t want my children not to care. So I tell them that they are designed more to test your teacher than to test you. I tell them to give their best effort and then don’t give it another thought. “But my teacher said I have to do well or, or, or…” Or what? This year, I chose to give my kids a sage piece of advice my dad once gave me…”In 20 years, who is going to know or care that you made a D in that class?”
Yes, 20 years ago, I, a student at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, a preacher’s kid, no less, made a D in Religion. Go ahead and have a laugh at the irony. It’s okay. At the time, I thought the world was going to cave in around my pretty little head. Also, I knew my parents were forking out a ridiculous amount of moola for me to attend college and so that was stressful for me. But when my dad said those words to me that day when I was so distressed, I learned that keeping things in perspective goes a long way toward keeping a girl sane.
SIDEBAR: Now, let me mention here, that “Dr. I-know-your-name-but-I’m-not-going-to-use-it-here”, professor of Religion at Meredith College (a women’s college with Baptist roots! <clears throat>) was a bespectacled, clog wearing, mustachioed, tweed jacket and khaki wearing, sitting on the front of his desk, atheist who in NO WAY should have been teaching a religion class. Now that is my humble opinion. But I sat there every class and had to listen to that man malign my personal belief system and tell me that the Holy Bible was nothing more than a historical work of fiction. UGH! (You are entitled to your own opinion about Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible, but please allow me that same courtesy.)
But I’m afraid I digress…
Anyway, that piece of advice from my dad really took a load off my shoulders. And so I shared it with my kids…”In 20 years, no one is going to know or care how you scored on this test. So, just keep it in perspective!”
Yes, teachers and schools need to be held accountable for providing a fair and adequate education for our kids, but is this the right way? And I’m not saying there should be no expectations of students to learn certain things. Let’s just suppose for a second, that these standardized tests are meant to assess how well the teachers are doing…
You can be the best teacher that ever walked the face of God’s green Earth and your students may not “perform” to the “standard”. And even if they DO meet or exceed the standards, does that mean you have a good teacher on your hands? What your students know or don’t know, in my opinion, does not define how a good a teacher is. A good teacher is defined by compassion. Willingness to think outside of the box. Flexibility. Making learning fun and interesting. NOT teaching to some test.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know this…there has to be a better way.
But then, nobody ever consults me about these things.
<steps down from soapbox>