Kids are born with curious minds. They want to play and explore to learn more about the world around them. They love to talk, pretend, and create.
Then they go to school.
The very place where kids should learn by doing has instead become a place where they now exist as a data point.
I have every right to make this claim and stand by it; I am a former principal who left the position because we say we’re doing what’s best for students when nothing can be further from the truth. What I’m about to say is going to be raw but real.
We’re over-testing our kids. Period.
Do you know how many tests a teacher needs in order to know how his or her students are performing? None. Not one single test.
Do you know how many tests teachers are giving? Pre-tests, post-tests, end of grade tests, end of course tests, practice tests, unit tests, mid-year tests . . . that’s just to name a few.
A teacher can tell you within a few days where a student has gaps and where they excel without a test. They would be able to fill these gaps and create better learning experiences if it weren’t for all of the tests that get in the way of actually teaching.
I’m so sick of your kid and my kid being data points.
What if . . .
Our schools were places of exploring.
The kid who loves LEGOs gets to spend a part of his or her day just building with LEGOs. In today’s classroom, this would be viewed as playing and a waste of time. Tell that to the future engineer.
Or the kid who hates to write is given the option to type. Instead of each letter being a painstaking chore, his stories come to life on a keyboard that is very much a part of the world we live in. But this is not to be even in with the technology we use every day because “kids are expected to write”.
What if our schools were places where our kids looked forward to going each day and saw as (gasp) fun? What would it be like to have a kid who comes home happy and energized instead of burnt out and exhausted?
And, by the way, this school would not have homework. Our kids would get to disconnect from school once the day ended, enjoy their family time, and go back refreshed. Kind of like adults like to do.
I can hear some of the arguments now.
“You mean my kids would do work that looks more like playing, wouldn’t take any tests, and come home without more work to do and that’s going to prepare them for college or whatever career path they choose?”
That is EXACTLY what I’m saying. Here’s why.
As traditional school looks now, our kids are learning how to take tests. They spend less time talking and more time memorizing fact after fact to get their data point to move from point A to point B (which is how the teacher is graded too).
And this is sucking the life out of our teachers and stealing what could be an amazing opportunity for our kids.
Teachers are leaving. Parents are disgusted. Kids are on medication.
The answer is really simple yet here’s the sad hard truth: data points are tied to funding.
If the powers that hold the purse strings would back off from mandates and let us explore the “what ifs” we could have some incredible change in our schools and our kids.
Are we really doing what’s best for our kids? Ask your own. The real data points speak volumes if we’d just allow them to talk.