Archive for September, 2012

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

 I deeply apologize to all of those who have read this blog and found my thoughts to be of some value in improving your teaching skills. It is all wrong. My kind of teacher is being eliminated. The teacher in today’s classroom must stifle creativity and be in a constant control of the “adventure.” The student will not be allowed to lead this adventure. Successful teachers in today’s classrooms must instruct their students to take a test successfully.

 Today’s teacher is expected to teach a student how to take a standardized test. All else is now secondary. Creativity, thinking, challenging, questioning – these are a few of those important aspects that a pupil needs to become a student. A pupil repeats the facts and dates and follows the textbook information. The student assimilates facts into a sphere of knowledge. Today’s concept of a scholar is one who can “perform” on a standardized test. The powers-to-be in education today are less interested in learning them they are in training. The teacher in today’s classroom is expected to “train” their pupils to choose a “correct” answer when given a choice of four.

  As a science teacher I expected my students to question the facts. I used reading as a tool to learning. I encourage my students to challenge the facts. Today’s science teacher is a reading teacher. The value of the teacher (evaluation) is now being tied to a student’s success on a standardized test. Successful teachers are those that produce students who do well on standardized tests. The fallacy of standardized testing is grown out of this concept of accountability.

 I am one of those students who never did well on standardized tests. In fact, my test scores were so poor that I should never have considered going to college. My test score indicated that I would be a successful dishwasher! I did want to college. I did get a masters degree in biology. I did work as a naturalist for several years. I did go on to become an extremely successful high school teacher. I even went on to teach on the college level. I even offered workshops to other teachers on how to teach. I never learned to wash dishes. Ty wife demanded on a machine dishwasher. My wife was a wise person.

 One year I taught a class of students who were, in the politically correct words, language challenged. They were mostly students who had fled their country (Palestine) in order to seek protection in this country. I had 37 students in the class. After a month or two, I decided to check on their test results from the previous year. By this time I had become to know the abilities of the students rather than the numbers limiting the student. This was an eighth-grade class and they were performing at the fourth grade level. I knew from work we did in class that their work was better than what the test results showed. These students took that year’s test in April and showed an average increase of 2.5 years. I became the hero of the school. I was given credit for improving the students test scores by over twice what was expected. I received accolades and recognition all over the place. I was a fraud and I expressed that every chance I had. My students were always smart and it just happened that I was there teacher when they developed a grass on the English language. They did this all by themselves. I had very little to do with it. They learned from experiences of interacting with other students. This is how distorted standardized tests are.

 The present movement to tie the quality of teaching to the quantity of the test results is in the use of the concept of accountability. Imagine a physician whose quality of being a doctor is measured by how well his patients do on blood tests. There are so many factors that are out of the control of a doctor there would be considered totally and completely unfair to base the abilities of this doctor on those tests. Uses standardized test results is as unfair as using the blood tests

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September 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm Leave a comment


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