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Back to School

15 Aug

When you whittle down my job to its bare bones, I essentially teach teachers to use various technologies in their teaching practice. I am always amazed by the rash of rationale, theory, and pedagogy thrown at me for the use of instructional methods that simply make the instructor’s life easier, rather than the students’ experience richer.

It is almost time for my own children to head back to school. I am hoping for an enriching year, full of opportunities for them to apply their learning in real, contextual frameworks. The unfortunate reality is that I know we will be faced with nights of daunting worksheets and repetitive tasks all in practice to meet some state mandate or achievement level on a standardized test.

My children are not standardized, so why should their instruction be? They are both girls, from the same genetic background, yet they are very different learners with quite diverse interests and ability levels. If this is true for my two children, how much more so is it reflective of our classroom cultures?

One of my favorite stories is the Animal School. If you’ve never read it, this video captures it beautifully. Mark Twain once said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Schooling has become the teaching or review of a lesson, evaluated by a test. An education is when you encounter one of life’s many tests, and it teaches you a lesson.

Many of our schools have adopted a “serving students best” attitude, when in reality, they are doing them a great disservice.

Disservice

You told me I could not get a decent job
without an education
without any aspiration
but you squelched my motivation.

I passed all your tests.
I raised myself up
when you raised the bar,
but your standards have not gotten me
very far.

I cannot succeed
as you think I should
because I was not taught
to create
to cultivate
to innovate;
but rather I was trained
to simulate
to solve a formula
and fit in your boxed-in,
closed-minded,
impractical ideals
of what would make me
well-rounded.

Well, excuse me Mr. Governor,
excuse me Mr. Congressman,
excuse me Mr. President,
but where are you going to plot me
on your mighty graphs?

It’s my knowledge
and my dreams
and my accomplishments
and my life
that you try to standardize
into some padlocked box.

What other aspect of my self will you try to qualify
and quantify
and magnify
and publicize
to reap the pat on the back
you do not deserve?

And what is an education
without a declaration
of my imagination
anyway?
 

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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