I’ve had time to look at my “high stakes scores” (insert Hollywood style, Fay Wray’s King Kong scream)….from a data stand they’re not impressive, okay full disclosure…horrific to the ivory tower of the powers that be.
From my tower, I really don’t care.
I’ve said before, I’m not a test taker. My degrees are in Literacy, Elementary Education, Reading, and English and I still did horribly on the teaching boards. (Interestingly enough I believe a politician or two didn’t do so hot on the bar exam the first...or second time - just sayin’!) Does this mean I’m not innovative? Creative? Hard working? Does this mean I don’t push kids to think, to question, to ask, to discover, to dig? Does this mean I don’t research and prove and question? Does it mean I don’t expect rigor and attention to detail? Um….nope! So, what I find so absurd is that those scores, which the politicians LOVE, show nothing – nada – zilch! What they DO show is how 8 year olds stand up to pressure, to exhaustion, to confusion, to stress, and frankly to the flexing muscles in a political game. They can’t possibly show how much collaboration & teamwork happens in my room. They don’t measure the intrinsic motivation, depth of learning, and drive my kids have (not sure how well you can measure the “boo factor” – when the kids actually boo you for telling them it’s lunch time!). They can’t possibly measure the creativity, excitement, and success with real life learning that happens in my room E V E R Y S I N G L E day.
Years ago, Dear Hubby’s cousin worked for the U.N. in Sierra Leone and Darfur. While the work could be incredibly dangerous he brought back so many life lessons that I try to bring into my classroom. Families are poor there; I mean dig whatever they could out of what was cast aside in dumps and trash heaps to build shelter for the family poor, I mean the villagers wash their clothes in one shared basin poor. The one thing I will ALWAYS remember that Cousin said was that no matter how difficult things were, no matter how harsh the conditions, they always took care to carry themselves with their heads held high and also made sure they took care of each other – being sure everyone in the village had what they needed to flourish. These folks, despite challenges in every part of their daily lives, NEVER gave up. Cousin’s favorite thing was to bring candy from the states back to the kids. Again, he was often amazed at their selflessness in sharing what they had (one small child even tried to break his hard candy to share with other children) and making sure everyone in the village was taken care of and successful. They went out of their way to help each other overcome adversity and achieve.
I’m sure you’ve seen the picture on the internet from the anthropologist in Africa who hid a basket of fruit and told the children in the village that whoever got to it first, won. He was shocked to witness all of the children grab hands and run to find the basket TOGETHER then sat down together to share the treat. When he asked them why they had run like that, while one of them could have all the fruits to himself, they said: UBUNTU! Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning 'humanity to others'. It also means 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. There was no test, no score, no assessment…but the terrain was rigorous, the task was challenging, and the work was motivating.
So for this year, I will continue the work I do with no mind paid to a six day, developmentally inappropriate, unreasonable assessment that tears children down, but instead with attention focused on 180 others of critical thinking, on collaboration, creativity, and teamwork, with research and depth, and intrinsically motivated eight year olds.