Teacher or Score Whore? August 13, 2011Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
Tags: Creativity, Divergent Thinkers, Education, Educational Reform, Educational Revoluation, Matt Damon, NCLB, No Child Left Behind, Score Whore, Sir Ken Robinson, Standardized Testing, Teaching, Third Grade, Urban Dictionary
“All perceived underachievement by students is entirely the fault of teachers.”
I’ve been mulling over posting Rewriting the Attack on Teachers from The Last Word on The Lawrence O’Donnell Show for over a week now. The show featured a clip of Matt Damon and his mom, who is a teacher, speaking out against this national obsession with standardized testing. The comment above is taken from the show. (And yes, if you click on the link, you have to sit through a commercial first. ^#^&8&.)
But in the meanwhile, MY students’ STAR test results came in. I was elated to learn that four of my 28 third graders scored a perfect 600 in math on the standardized STAR test given in May! Even more exciting, 24 scored Advanced and 2 at the Proficient level. I wasn’t surprised about the two students who didn’t make the grade. They struggled all year and scored Basic, but it could have been worse. There ARE sub-levels of failure including Below Basic and Far Below Basic.
It helped that this year I taught a cluster of GATE (Gifted and Talented Students). They made up half of the class. The four previous years, I taught an ELD (English Language Development) cluster where the test scores can sometimes make you wonder if you’ve been talking to yourself all year.
My students’ English Language Arts scores were less stellar, but that’s always the case. Whereas, math is black and white, the English Language is a moving target for my students. Still, if I taught in one of those districts that handed out money for test scores. Ka-ching! My initial reaction was, “Woo hoo!”
But then I got to thinking, something that teachers are prone to do. Though my class tested well, most of my students have difficulty writing a coherent paragraph. And with all that test prep, we barely touched on those two subjects that begin with S – Science and Social Studies. But these things aren’t “on the test” which is code for they must not be that important.
But what about imagination, passion, and creativity? Matt Damon asked. “None of these qualities that make me who I am can be tested.” Sssh! The elephant in the room has stirred!
In Not Your Imagination: Kids Today Really Are Less Creative, Study Says, Ron Beghetto, an educational psychologist at the University of Oregon, posits, “The current focus on testing in schools, and the idea that there is only one right answer to a question, may be hampering the development of creativity among kids,” adding, “There ‘s not much room for unexpected, novel or divergent thought.”
When it comes to talking not just about educational reform, but educational Revolution, I can think of no one as articulate and downright funny as Sir Ken Robinson. In his 18-minute talk at TED Bring on the Learning Revolution!, Robinson urges us to scrap the outdated industrial/manufacturing/fast food model of education where the goal is standardization and success is based on the standardized test in favor of a model where kids’ natural talents can flower. He also debunks the myths that “Everyone should go college” and “College begins in Kindergarten.”
It’s rousing food for thought, especially as a new school year awaits. Score whore no more! I’m a teacher. Period.
Credit: Score: Score Whore merchandise (yes, that’s the front of a notecard for the teachers in YOUR life) available through Urban Dictionary.
When Your Relative is a Pig April 10, 2010Posted by alwaysjan in Personal.
Tags: Artsy Craftsy, Creativity, Easter Bonnets, Easter Hats, Humor, Personal, Pigs, Spring, Zinnia
My sister-in-law Jane called from Idaho to tell how her seven year-old twins, Izzy and Kate, told their teacher they didn’t eat pork. When their teacher asked why, they replied, “Because our cousin Maisie is a pig.” The teacher thought this was so imaginative, she shared it with Jane, who looked at her and with a straight face and replied, “Their cousin IS a pig.”
Of course, Jane then asked if we could dress Maisie up in some clothes and send a picture so the twins could take it for Show and Tell. Yes, an outfit for a pig. I added that to my very long “To Do” list.
By chance, our friend Nora was visiting from Chicago. She’s hopelessly artsy and prone to flights of fancy. When she heard this story, I swear I saw her ears prick up. “Maisie needs a hat,” Nora announced, as though this was the most sensible idea in the world.
The next day, Nora was “on it” though she returned home midday to measure the distance between Maisie’s ears. Two days later, I found her sitting outside fashioning a hat from crepe paper and all the trimmings she’d purchased at Zinnia. There was a chill in the air, but compared to the the weather back in Chicago, it was downright balmy. While Nora fussed over the details, Maisie snoozed in the sun nearby. Every artist needs a muse.
Last week, I finally decided we had to get a shot of Maisie wearing THE hat. Working with a Plus Size model with an attitude is no walk in the park, but Maisie sees Project Runway in her future. And I finally got to cross THAT off my “To Do” list.
Ultimately, this “project” made me thankful for all the crazy creative people in my life. Those people, who without hesitation said, “Their cousin IS a pig!” and “Maisie needs a hat.” My hat’s off to them.
Do Schools Kill Creativity? January 31, 2009Posted by alwaysjan in Food for Thought, Teaching.
Tags: Arts in the Schools, Bloom's Taxonomy, Creativity, Education, Education and Creativity, Ken Robinson, Multiple Intelligences, Sir Ken Robinson, Talented and Gifted, Teaching, TED
Do you have 18 minutes? That’s how long the speakers at TED “Ideas Worth Sharing” have to give the talk of their lives. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) was started in 1984 to bring together the best minds in these fields, but has since expanded its vision. I first viewed this link on The Critical Thinker, which you’ll find on my blogroll (Thanks Mark!).
This 18-minute talk by Sir Ken Robinson is a joy to watch. It’s a laugh out loud stand-up comedy routine that raises serious questions about how we educate children. Okay, I don’t really believe that all those kids with ADHD ricocheting around classrooms will grow up to be dancers, but I could be wrong. Actually, I’d love to be wrong.
I teach at a school where there’s an “emphasis on the arts” (though no funding for them). Yet ultimately, it all comes down to The Test and that ever elusive API score. I wouldn’t say I’m drowning in data, but my new computer password is “Data Hari.”
As educators, we’re always looking for answers when sometimes what we need to do is stop and rethink the questions. Ken Robinson raises some very interesting ones. Do you have 18 minutes?
To view some of the other amazing people who’ve spoken at TED, click on this link. TED