Monday, March 17, 2008

Self Portrait Challenge: Politics Week 3

The day the music died . . .

Learning takes many forms--knowledge gained from books, being in touch with nature, learning about history and culture--both our own and that of others, real life survival skills, creating things of beauty, both visual and aural. The list goes on.

We are killing learning. The narrowing of school curricula and the pressures to perform on standardized tests are ruining public education. The joy is gone for many students. All that matters these days is reading and math. Period. The sad thing is that we teachers, the ones who actually work with the kids, know this is harmful to kids. No one in charge listens. We are getting ready for MSA (Maryland School Achievement) testing at my school. Normal learning has come to a grinding halt for a month. Special teachers are pulled for testing accommodations and students are engaged in two weeks of practice tests followed by two weeks of testing.

As a result, I had to cancel my choral rehearsals for a month so that my students could engage in testing and all that is involved with it. Some of my students really need to be in music and art. It is their reason for survival. I know if I were not given the opportunity to sing for a month, my soul would wither and die.

Tom Chapin said it best:

"The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school 'cause they're not on the test."

To hear the song go here.
It's good for a chuckle--except it really isn't funny.

Politicians need to stay out of our classrooms.

For more political photos, visit the Self Portrait Challenge.


  1. I completely agree with you, that the testing has sucked the enjoyment out of the educational process.

    I am a huge proponent of reading, but not for standardized tests reasons... reading, like art and music and drama, inspires creative learning. I am sorry you had to cancel practice - seems to me the kids would remember the test studies better if they could stretch the creative side of their brain between the tests.

  2. I read a great analogy about this on another blog a while ago and I thought it really brought the point home to those of us who are not teachers.

  3. I so agree with you! Education in this country has to be severly rethought! More educators have to realize the value of the wholistic mind and how 'creatives' and multi-taskers will be valued in an outsourced country in the future!!!

  4. I agree with your other commenter, Rebekah, regarding needing a balance between the testing and creative thinking. I know I think a lot more clearly when I take breaks to do creative things. It took me a long time to figure this out on my own, as it wasn't something that was encouraged in school. I just kept grinding through more and more work and burning myself out more and more, and I think this is what's happening to a lot of kids now, too. Maybe that is even where some of the rage and acting out incidents of recent years are coming from. Just a thought.

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