"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Friday, January 20, 2012

So now they're going to test kindergartners...

Click on the link below to see what our fearless leader is proposing now. So, Walker wants to reinvent the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, this time figuring out how to test kindergarteners in reading? That's my take on this. OK... Some of the ideas are good, looking for achievable measurable parameters to monitor. However, when one really thinks about what is objective and what is subjective, much cannot be evaluated using purely objective criteria. Therein lies the rub. If a teacher is missing the "soft skills" how much energy should a school district invest in that person before deciding to give them the boot instead of letting them get tenure? Frankly, some people never develop the personality necessary to become an outstanding teacher: Humility, joy at seeing the student pass you in speed and content, persistence in covering the material until each child has grasped the basics and can build the next learning blocks on them and satisfaction in the knowledge that you had some small part to play in that child's education.

Then there's the whole business of holding teachers and principals accountable for poor test scores. Learning starts in the womb. It continues the moment you hold your precious bundle for the first time. Every interaction you have with that baby is a learning experience for both of you, more so for the babe. If a parent plops that babe in front of the boob tube for 5 years and then blames the public schools because they have produced an illiterate child who can't figure out how to read by grade 2, where's the parental accountability in all this?  How can the schools be held accountable for that kind of parent who presents the schools with a child whose potential to learn has been squelched at the hands of the morons who "raised" it?

Then there's the nature of bulk learning in this day in age. If the poor kid hasn't had it's love of learning extinguished by it's parents, elementary school will often finish the job. Especially of that child is a boy. Have you ever noticed the difference in the learning process of a boy compared to a girl? Granted, I'm not going to try to extract how much of this is innate and how much has been imposed by our sexist societal norms. But if those norms produce boys who, by and large, learn best my exercising their large muscle groups and with hands on activity and girls learn best through collaborative and cooperative models and our schools teach by rote and lecture, emphasizing collaboration and team effort, which gender do you think is going to excel in public school?  Why do you think girls outnumber boys on college campuses these days? It's not because boys have suddenly become stupid. Their learning style does not mesh well with what is expected of them in public school. Their learning style DOES mesh well with behavior that usually lands them in trouble, setting them up for a lot of time in the principal's office. How can they learn when they are spending all their energy suppressing their natural impulse to jump around so they don't get sent to the principal's office?

Well, that's my rant. I certainly never want to see the days again when girls were told that they were not worthy of a college education because they were only going to become wives and mothers and it was a waste of a spot in college, like my mother and mother-in-law had to endure. But there really has to be some kind of happy medium it would seem. The answer lies in differentiated instruction, wherein each child is taught to his or her own strength. If a kid needs motion to learn, give him or her motion. If a kid needs as many math problems as you can throw at her, bring it on. Just stop providing the mediocre pablum and challenge each kid so they reach their potential whether they had parents who parked them in front of the boob tube from day 1 or read to them in the womb.


No comments: