I watched Forrest Gump again. When you look at Forrest’s life, he was in the right place all through history. I know it was not real, but this movie brought home to me why it’s so obvious what is happening in America. It’s a dumbing down of America for a reason: MONEY. Even though Forrest’s IQ was low, his mother believed in him; he had opportunities and took them; and he never gave up.
No Child Left Behind sounded like a good idea but was never funded completely and then focused on testing and standards. I don’t disagree about accountability and determining how students are progressing. BUT… no student is the same. They start out different. The problem with NCLB and standards is that everything is based that all 6 year old children across the country are the same. Textbook companies created the tests that met the standards for Texas, California, and New York. Forget the rest of the country. So a 6 year old in West Virginia was tested on information based on New York standards. Public schools are losing money so administrators are making hard choices to retire high quality teachers early, get rid of bonuses for teachers who work toward a Masters (article), and hire inexperienced teachers from programs like Teach for America (TFA) where they are placed in low income schools after 5 weeks of training. We need teachers. People need jobs. It’s just that these inexperienced teachers need help and that TFA prepares them with the attitude that they know more than experienced teachers. What??? How can that be? If all of your new teachers feel this way, then forget change… forget creativity. That is, unless some of these new teachers take the high road and want to learn more and partner with an experienced master teacher or coach. Read Carolyn Foote’s post about master teachers.
Now we’re moving to Common Core Standards that are pieced together skills that inexperienced teachers teach with worksheets because that’s all they know. Teachers may only know what they were taught. Reading from the textbook doesn’t work for today’s students anymore. Testing on these standards does not mean students have real understanding of the concepts and how they relate to the real world. We need experienced teachers, mentors, and coaches to develop engaging innovative learning opportunities for our students. If not, we take away the opportunities for our most vulnerable children in public schools. Maybe we need to rethink the motives to compartmentalize teaching and learning now and why we are going back to this industrial model when we know it doesn’t work.
Do you really want mediocre citizens that will not be able to compete in a global society? Keep this up and we’ll be the developing country led by a few very wealthy people. China, Korea and India will be leading the way unless we stop the direction we’re going.
I’m looking for schools, teachers, districts who want to offer the opportunities so any child can reach their fullest potential.
Are you ready to get creativity, joy, and the focus on learning instead of teaching to the test?