Professor Mom

Chronicles the life of a mom, teacher, and writer trying to stay sane amid the chaos of daily life.

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mouse's picture mouse

All too often in education, a level playing field means getting rid of any texture and nuance for everybody. It's the great push to the middle. And equal opportunity gets twisted into sameness. When I was in school, this happened in my district when the superintendent decided to get rid of some electives at one junior high in order to make the curriculum the same level of generic across the board--instead of encouraging teachers at the other schools to come up with their own interesting offerings.

I see a similar effect with NCLB. There's a lot more emphasis on getting kids over some imaginary line of accomplishment. Anything more is practically a waste of time.

I loved the art program at the private school where I taught. The teachers in the department were very good at breaking projects down into skills and steps and truly believed that everybody is an artist. Yet they also encouraged students to produce something personal.


Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

I really like how you phrased it: "imaginary line of accomplishment"--so true. Obviously there are many, many teachers out there who will choose lots of enrichment activities instead of just opting to teach the core curriculum choices, but the way NCLB is structured now, there is little incentive for teachers to explore "out of the box" or creative learning alternatives. As a result, many kids are labeled as under achievers, or they are just pushed down into mediocrity. They might have passed that imaginary line of achievement, but there is nothing in place to encourage them to excel beyond that point.


Omaha Mama's picture Omaha Mama

That's a lot to chew on! As a special education teacher, I obviously don't think kids should all be taught or offered the same thing. I'm probably too loose, thinking the system has gone too far in terms of standards and testing and the like. They've taken any freedom or creativity from teachers, instead focusing fully on data, data, data. Do the students who can bubble the right answer on a standardized test hold the only keys to our future? I think it's a clear no. It's just that the kids who do not bubble it correctly, they are just getting dragged along for the ride. Whether they want to come or not.


Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

I know there are so many wonderful teachers like you out there, Omaha--the problem is that it's so difficult for them to explore creative approaches to learning because of the say the standardized testing is set up. It must be so frustrating...and yes, I see so many brilliant, creative kids in college who think they can't learn, or who didn't learn properly because they weren't taught in the ways that worked for them, as individual learners.