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View Diary: I am going to be a teacher. (78 comments)

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  •  I have a question (5+ / 0-)

    How would you react if one of the best kids in your class, one who always does real well on tests, and last year scored at the top of the NCLB tests, this year decided to join the Bartleby Project and refused to take the test? And what would your reaction be if that student encouraged others in the class to do likewise?

    •  Is this an open question or just directed (8+ / 0-)

      to the diariest?  If it's open and not OT, this question really captured my imagination, this morning, and I'd like to answer.

      I'd be delighted that they were practicing civil disobedience based on critical thinking.  I'd alert the office and ask them where the student could go for the testing week ... suggesting maybe the library. Then, as they were leaving, I'd probably smile at them and toss them an old dog earred copy of Thoreau's Walden Pond to look over during the testing with an off-hand request to let me know what they thought of the dude.  LOL

      Oh, and if they were sending them to the library, I'd probably also madly rummage through my library of educational DVDs to find some gems that fit with that student's interests.  There are some really great resources that we no longer have time to show due to the testing mess, and I'd relish the opportunity to share some specially selected things with that student.  They could view them on our computers with headphones.

      I'd not only want to use the time to help the student continue learning, but also I'd like them to understand that civil disobedience is an honored tradition in our nation and have them not feel like they are being punished for it.

      Wow.  What a terrific question. :)  I got all excited just imagining such a situation. Thanks.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 07:12:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't reject the principle of standardized tests (4+ / 0-)

        ...just the practice.  Tests, quizzes -- any little task that says "here's a problem: try solving it with your internal resources"-- can be a good thing. But the tasks have to be chosen carefully. ETS and CB have failed miserably in that aspect, and each year their tests seem to get worse.  

        I teach at a state university, and (with some exceptions) the overall quality of my students has declined over two decades.  

        My pet peeves:

        1. Incoming students have not been taught memory skills.  There is a long-standing myth in U.S. public discourse that schoolwork usually involves too much memorization. Not true.  Among my non-Asian students, I'm lucky if one in twenty have ever been taught basic memory skills.  Most of the US-born grad students I see are likewise untrained, and many of them plan careers in public education. They shrink in fear at anything that is memory-related, because they haven't the slightest idea how to approach it (and btw, I was not very impressed by the account of "mnemonics" in last Sunday's NYT magazine).  

        2. Incoming students have not learned the relation between evidence and argument.  Their essays are packed with unjustifiable generalizations and ill-formed "conclusions" that represent poor documentation skills, poor reasoning skills, and poor discourse skills.  I am convinced that the five-paragraph essay format of recent testing has made this situation radically worse.  

        3. Incoming students lack exposure to critical and creative modes of thinking in the humanities and also the sciences.  They think its all a bunch of facts (which they wouldn't be able to remember anyhow) that just follow some basic principles (whatever the teacher says).  "Learn it and understand" is how they view the process of education.  Life without intellect.  

        I support the Bartleby Project because the standardized test industry is destroying students' minds.  But I do hope that students can find good opportunities for learning elsewhere.  

        •  It's worse that this. (5+ / 0-)

          This is what is on the PSSA/ NCLB test coming up in two weeks.

          Did you know that a sentence has six words in it? Did you know that a paragraph has five sentences in it and that the first sentence can also be the last sentence as long as it is reworded? In fact this is the preferred structure of paragraphs for fifth graders. How do I know this to be true? My son's teacher told us.

          My husband teaches writing and journalism at Penn State. My mother taught writing at a small liberal arts college near here. They both want to pull their hair out trying to undo the damage that these "facts" are doing to the minds of students.

          NCLB is a trap. In 2014, all schools must be at 100% proficiency. That 100% includes kids with learning disabilities, autistic and special needs kids, ELL kids. They all have to pass the exact same test. The only concession in Pennsylvania is that these kids can have extra time. by 2014, all school will fail and will be privatized.

          Here are two interesting articles: What If We Treated Doctors The Way We Treat Teachers? and The Honest 'Public Education Crisis' Narrative

          •  Well, I can understand why a teacher (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            might say something like this especially if the district wanted to grade writing samples.

            I used to be one of the teachers who would grade writing samples for the district. We had to go by a special rubric. And, yes, sentence structure with a noun and verb/subject predicate was part of the rubric as was a paragraph containing a topic sentence with main idea and at least 3 supporting ideas. And since most schools taught writing by use of the "house model", paragraphs were graded down if they did NOT contain 5 sentences....

            I don't think I have a copy of the rubric any more, but we often resisted grading by it since it left no room for creative expression. Most of the topics were "Favorite Person" or "why teens should or should not be allowed to vote"...stuff like that. The rubric would give a score of 30 points for perfect (HAH!). There were 5 levels and 6 categories for each and, zero was an option even though it was not on the rubric.

            Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lazzardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

            by Temmoku on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 12:36:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I would be tempted to argue (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Grassroots Mom, Eikyu Saha

          that memorization isn't the problem... it's that we ask kids to memorize lists without understanding their purpose. Kids can list of their multiplication tables by memory but not have any clear idea of what those numbers actually refer to. They don't understand the math behind the memorization. That's the biggest problem.

          Otherwise, I agree with you 100%. Most kids today don't know how to think.

          I've homeschooled both my boys until last year. The oldest attended 9th grade and the teachers were thrilled with his participation in the classroom. He knows how to think. We did this by throwing out curriculum based programs and focusing on reading great books, fiction and non-fiction, and by following the passions of my boys, to include going on tons of field trips and paying extra for courses in math and art (not crafts, art). The only course of study we followed as if in school was math and we did it in a non-traditional manner (Miquon, Singapore, and Living Math). I swear that more kids could learn how to think if we could give teachers the freedom to create their own curriculums and follow the passions of their students.

          I want to find solutions for more kids, not just my own. Our education system is horrible. As we've moved from state to state, I've looked for public school programs that use Montessori, Waldorf, or Sudsbury methods, but those schools are far and few between. Integrating these methods would make a huge difference in our school systems.

          •  Yes, they should learn the purpose. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It doesn't make sense to make the effort to remember anything unless you have some notion of why you are doing it.  But if kids remember the tables, they will be in a better position to make sense of how they work.  Likewise, if they learn how the tables work, they will remember the tables more effectively (and be able to think through calculations more quickly).  

            But there is more at stake than just remembering tables or word lists. Remembering information is itself a skill.  If you are at a business meeting and can't remember the name of the person you are trying to negotiate with, that's a problem.  If you sit down at a table with ten other people, and you command ten important points about each of them, you have a powerful tool, and likely a terrific advantage over the others.  If you prepared seven presentation points and can only remember three when asked to speak, you need to find another occupation.  If you are a clerk at McDonald's and you have to turn around three times to check whether your customer ordered fries, you are worth less than a packet of ketchup.

            You mentioned crafts.  I think a bit of artisanship can be a good thing in life, whether it means knowing how to hold a pencil well enough to write clearly; or learning a musical instrument (it takes a lot of craftwork before one can even think of reaching Mozart); or knowing how to splice an electrical cord (and thus fix a light socket without getting electrocuted and without having to spill $75 for an electrician to spend 10 minutes doing it for you).  

            I think it's very cool that you and your children have explored many different methods.  So long as they are skill-inclusive, the more the merrier.  Several years ago, I met a family that was renting a house up the street and homeschooling their kids. I asked how they approached math education.  "Oh, we don't do math," they said. "We don't think it has any value for contemporary life" [or something to that effect].  I was very curious about how they managed their home financing, but they quickly disappeared from the neighborhood.  Maybe they got the rent wrong.  

      •  I'd be delighted (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jedennis, bkamr, elwior

        to hear from any teachers. Our children have some wonderful loving talented teachers. I would not want to do anything to hurt them or put their jobs in jeopardy. But these test are evil. They are part of the ongoing war on PUBLIC education, teachers' unions, and it's time to take a stand.  

    •  I like this video better than the HuffPo link: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grassroots Mom

      thanks for mentioning the Bartleby Project. My highschool age son is interested and will share it with friends in CA. I will too.

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