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View Diary: Seattle teachers refuse to give flawed standardized test (121 comments)

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  •  Would having learned how to read... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dogs are fuzzy, Linda Wood, Sparhawk

    ...prevented Russ from being a great welder (and, if so, why)? Did he have a disability that prevented him from reading? Surely his being able to read would have made it easier for him to pick up new technologies related to his field on his own and therefore benefited him. How could he read the safety materials and instruction manuals for a new welding unit that was extensively electronically controlled (so he couldn't deduce from mechanical linkages how it worked). How did he understand OSHA regulations if he couldn't read (as supervisor he would normally be responsible for safety training and insuring his staff followed the rules)?

    How should we decide that a fourth grader should be a "Russ" and stop bothering to teach him to read?

    The number of jobs for folks like Russ are declining rapidly. More and more manufacturing jobs that pay any but the lowest wages require reading and math skills - because they are controlling, programming, and/or repairing machines that do the actual work (including welding).

    Anyone in today's society that can't read is at a serious disadvantage. They are at the mercy of others all the time - be it in getting auto insurance and understanding what it covers or understanding the rental application they must sign. Even making intelligent and informed healthcare decisions for yourself is very difficult if you can't read.

    •  I think you mis-understood... (1+ / 0-)
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      How should we decide that a fourth grader should be a "Russ" and stop bothering to teach him to read?
      I never said that it wasn't a disadvantage for his inability to read and by no means was I suggesting that we should ever stop teaching anyone to read.

      I was saying that just because some people did not have a high aptitude in areas that we typically attribute to intelligence or aptitude does not mean that they are not intelligent and are not valuable to society.  

      Why should little Suzie winning accelerated reader contests at school be praised as a bright child while Johnny, who rebuilds lawnmowers at age twelve, gets a label as a dunce?  Standardized tests lead to a standardized society where value is standardized as is appreciation.

      The number of jobs for folks like Russ are declining rapidly. More and more manufacturing jobs that pay any but the lowest wages require reading and math skills
      Why not pay people for what they are worth instead of requiring they fit inside a certain box and then expect them to think outside of it?  Why do we put them in it to begin with?  Not everyone has an aptitude for the written language and I do not know his particular set of circumstances but I do know he is a great guy, a good husband and a fantastic welder which is what his job requires of him.  Why do people think he is less than because he cannot read?  Would you discriminate against him if he couldn't walk?  That would offer challenges in the work place as well.

      I think you are making the assumption, as a lot of people do, that he cannot read because he is lazy or he didn't try in school.  I bet you cannot weld aluminum.  That is something he finds as easy as you and I find reading.  Why can't people accept that we all have diffent gifts in this world and his gift happened not to be reading but welding.  We have enough good readers out there who can give him a hand when he needs it, I think we could use a few more welders in my opinion.

      "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

      by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:35:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually... (3+ / 0-), albeit unstated, primary assumption was that Russ didn't have the opportunity or wasn't given the motivation to learn read. I also considered the possibility that he had a learning disability that wasn't diagnosed and addressed (perhaps due to the lack of understanding of such conditions when he was in school or, if he was younger, a bad school system). I concluded this because he sounds like an accomplished individual in other aspects so it's probably not a basic intelligence issue.

        I can't weld aluminum but I'm pretty sure I could learn to do a pretty good job at it if I chose to pursue that trade. As good as Russ, maybe not. I'm not sure what the relevance of that is though - it's impossible to be an expert at everything. My education, certainly not stellar, permits me to explore a wide variety of things relevant to a productive and informed existence.

        I don't think less of Russ because he can't read, although if he could learn to read and chose not to, I might question his judgement in making that decision even as an adult.

        I'm not expecting that every child will develop "high aptitude" in every area. However, I do believe our education system should set fairly high expectations and strive for basic aptitude in critical areas by as many children as possible.

        We should, for example, expect a High School graduate to be able to, painfully perhaps, read their auto insurance contract and actually understand it without help beyond Google et al. We should expect a High School graduate to be able to fairly quickly compute, with a four function calculator, how much money they would owe at the end of five years if they borrowed $10,000 at a simple annual interest rate of 7% and made no intervening payments. We should expect a High School graduate to compute, without a calculator, the odds of a coin flip coming up heads five times in a row. We should expect a High School graduate to know the difference between the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We should expect a High School graduate to know that each state has a fixed number of Senators. None of these require "high aptitude" - they require a basic education and, in the case of the insurance contract, concentration, focus, and perseverance.

      •  He's not here to speak for himself, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR, Sparhawk, Buckeye Nut Schell

        because he can't read, but I think it's a stretch to assume he feels his lack of ability to read has been an advantage for him. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's been a disadvantage for him.

        You ask,

        Why do people think he is less than because he cannot read?
        I don't think anyone in this discussion thinks he is "less than." But I definitely think he is less advantaged than most people if he cannot read.

        I think your argument suggests the testing of children's skills and knowledge is just to measure children's abilities, child by child, against one another. I don't think that's what standardized testing is meant to do. I think it works with the assumption most children, by a certain age and grade level, should be able to read and demonstrate skill in subjects that are crucial for their ability to support themselves later in life.

        I personally don't think we've come to this debate because of individual teachers' talents or lack thereof. I think the reform struggle has to do with methods of teaching going back decades in this country that have led to children, in significant numbers, not reaching normal levels of knowledge and skill.

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