Level Playing Field, Too Talented To Be True
It seems a situation has developed across the nation that is asking (or to be more accurate – strongly urging) teachers to move away from building students all the way to outside the box thinkers and instead to stop their growth as they reach inside the box because this will “level the field.” I could speak at length of exactly who is reaching inside the box, but we will save that for another post, another day. Back to the point at hand. Teachers are being directed to move toward “from the text questions” and away from “how I feel” questions”. What?
Do we not want our FUTURE LEADERS to be able to, at minimum, tell us what is right in front of their faces, and then to be able to explain what their position is on that person, place, thing or idea – whatever it is right there in front of them that they can describe very basically? I mean being able to express one’s informed feeling about something is a movement toward thinking outside the box. Do we not want this level of thinkers?
Ok, so what is the author talking about? What is the author’s opinion of it? What details from the text when combined represent clear evidence for that opinion? Having the ability to answer these questions should be a basic requirement to the lowest leveled reading ability on the hall by the end of an academic year based on a minimum required number of days, hours, minutes (whatever you know what I mean) of instruction. Basic Requirement. Say, for instance, you came in here reading as Level 1 (Levels 1-10), by the end of the year, you should be reading at least as well as required to answer these questions at least in your native language if not also in a second language (English). Basically. Every student should be able to do this at minimum.
Dude, the minimum is not enough! The least possible is what has gotten us education notions that include words like adequate where the word’s connotation in general society has been forcibly interpreted as meaning great. Adequate means “barely sufficient or satisfactory” (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adequate). It doesn’t mean above and beyond.
These days, many parents and guardians who are told a school made “Adequate Yearly Progress” believe that is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It’s not unattainable in the slightest especially in light of the fact that data can be spun.
The least possible is what has gotten us education notions that include words like exceptional where the word’s general connotation in educational circles has come not to describe students who are truly exceptional, the best of the best, the top of their class. The word is used to label some who have to be accommodated and or have practices modified to give them the opportunity to become or seem to become exceptional.
The problem with the idea behind what we are being asked to do is this, I think (Careful now, Jeffrey, thinking can get you into trouble.). The playing field has never been level, isn’t level and never will be in the real world. Public educational institutions are becoming fantasy lands. Unless you have been fortunate to attend in my classroom and a few other classrooms (and I haven’t been into a great many) facilitated by actually exceptional educators who do not need their practices accomodated in any way and can reach any individual that is placed in thier charge. Inside every fantasy story is a real situation that one can see the truth through. These few classrooms are the truth.
What is being proposed now is like asking 50 people of varying ability levels to run an open trail back country marathon through woods, over mountains, and across large lakes in bad weather only after the forest is cut down, the mountain is leveled, the lake is dried up, and they are each accomodated with umbrellas. Never gonna happen.
When children schooled this way leave a debilitating educational system built to enable all their weaknesses and enter the workplace, they are shocked, unprepared, completely out-skilled. COMPLETELY. Because they never got the truth. I wouldn’t be surprised if the biggest reason why we have so many societal issues here in America can be tracked back through a series of causes and conditions to how many of the children are being intellectually stripped of higher order thinking skills and the ability to deal with the truth of their present situation.
And I should like to set some parents and guardians at ease. This is not about not accommodating children so that they can achieve to their highest potential. THis is about lowering bar to a new low for what a highest potential has to be as determined by test creators guided by state legislatures. Get that. This, what is being talked about here, is testing them on a lower level, so they can all pass. I think. I am all for accommodating for each individual’s needs, preferences, interests so each person who comes by me gets every opportunity to develop into their own greatest individual as determined by their own conception of a higher power whatever that may be or not. But to what extent should a person be developed? That is the concern of this post. Stop when they can tell us what the author is talking about and where the author stands. Don’t go any further. Don’t gain the ability (if it isn’t already there) to form your own opinion of the topic, and the author’s position on the topic, and if it is already there – if you already have the ability to form your own opinion of the topic, and the author’s opinion of the topic – don’t share it with me. That is what is seemingly being required of teachers to ask of students.
My plan could be that I’m going to get my kids to the point to where they (1)can not be outdone with basic inside the box knowledge-based text questions, and (2) can out think their hallmates outside the box too. For the record, since this is published for all to see, I’m going to do what I’m told. For the record. You can quote me on that.
We could go on and on here . . I’ll leave you with this thought. The more I look at it, the Common Core seems to be a reason to simplify a required assessment so anyone can do well on it. Yes, it will include more written items, but how low do they all have to be writing in order for the playing field to be considered level?
How ’bout bringing the rest up to their highest potentials, rather than bringing some down to meet them? Instead of digging more holes so we can all see eye to eye, how ’bout we fill in the ditches so we can all stand on higher ground?
I’m just saying. This is actually horrifying to me.
Guys and Gals, if this post has made any sense to you, you may be wide-eyed and sweating, tense and quivering with fear or optimism; students, teachers, parents, guests – feel free to comment on this below.