Standardization, Administration, & Other Bollocky Things

Mamacita says:  Beethoven and Rodin would never make it in an American public school these days. Neither would Lincoln, or Clara Barton, or Thomas Jefferson. Nor Einstein. Or Edison.

Administrators have forgotten that ultimately, our culture will be judged on the arts; that’s how we learn about ancient cultures. We did not find any remnants of standardized test scores or sports stats in Pompeii; we found art and day-to-day ordinary living; loaves of bread, and graffiti, and clay pots for sale, and poems.   Yes, the ancients liked sports; part of the Coliseum is still standing, but it wasn’t the hub and whole of their existence. They valued music, and sculpture, and dance, and poetry, and creativity of all kinds. Astronomy was considered an art by the ancient Greeks, and, indeed, who can properly study the stars without also studying the fabulous stories that gave the night sky’s formations their names? It is not possible to do so. If your child’s teacher is “teaching” astronomy and not mentioning the myths, your child has a poor teacher.

Cultures that valued the arts live on, even when they and their structures are gone.

What do Americans value? Gossip and scandal and immoral politicians? Drug-addicted sports figures and out-of-wedlock pregnancies? Prostitutes Athletes with bloated egos and high-priced pimps managers?  Lindsay and Britney and Brangelina and TomKat and celeb sightings and scores, all kinds of scores: sexual and standardized and steroid-filled scores.   Adultery made to look golden. Talentless hacks and wealthy nobodies with good agents. CoughcoughcoughKardashianscoughcough.  I hate thinking what we’ve come down to as a culture.

There was a time when a high school principal would hire a professional musician to fill an empty seat in the school orchestra; it was that important.  Now, if there is an empty seat, the class is canceled and the music teacher is either “downsized” or given a lot of before-school and after-school and cafeteria duty, and a couple of study halls for the non-participatory segment of our younger society which is growing larger every day.  I mean, why do a lot of unnecessary work when you get the same rewards for not doing it?

What will archaeologists find a thousand years from now when they dig up what remains of America?  A lot of crumbling gymnasiums and enough rock-hard fossilized breast and lip-shaped collagen to sink a ship?

We should be nurturing our young artists and musicians and scientists, not relegating them to the back of the room so we can look good on paper in the subjects that are easy to measure for a bunch of withered humorless twits with no balls and no guts and no gumption.  I believe in testing, yes, definitely.  But not to the exclusion of the arts, and I will say this again:  Cramming a lot of facts in our kids’ heads and then asking them to bubble them right back is not the same thing as educating them.

I’ll say this again, too:  The most important things our children should be learning can’t be tested.

One more thing:  Why can’t we let our children be children?  Almost every minute of their adult lives will be regulated and scheduled and over-scheduled; why can’t they have their summers and their weekends and their after-school time, to be kids?  Because you know as well as I do, that the moment a bunch of anal boring adults steps in to “take charge” of the ball game or the bicycle ride or the hike or the impromptu soccer match in the back lot, all of the fun is going to be drained completely out, everybody will have to buy a uniform and a helmet, and adults will start showing up to keep score and yell at the little kid who stooped to look at the cool anthill and let the ball fly right over his head.

Remember when high school kids could participate in several sports, because the year was divided into “seasons?”  Now, most kids are required to choose one sport and only one, because what was once a “season” has grown into a year-long practice session.  We don’t want a losing team, now do we?

I once had a student who was a starter on the varsity football team AND a member of the marching band.  At half-time, he didn’t go take a pee and grab a soda with the rest of the team; he grabbed his trumpet and joined the formation and marched in his helmet and uniform.  It was mind-blowingly inspiring.  This kid is now a professional musician and a successful one, I might add.  I’m proud of you, Jeremy!

He wouldn’t be allowed to do that, now.  Oh, heavens, no.

Now, a kid has to choose between music and sports, because the coaches just won’t allow any of the team members to do something weird like that.  Absolutely forbidden.

I hate this.

Oh, and that chick in Georgia  who maintains that science and social studies are not important? NOT IMPORTANT?  She had to have fallen down the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down.*

Yes, it’s very late.  Yes, I definitely need a sandwich.  But if I make one,  it might make me even more surly.  Are you sure you want to risk that?

*Yes, I know it’s really the “ugly tree,”** but I changed it to fit the context.  So bite me.

**  Politically incorrect?  Like I care.

===

Parts of this post were published in August of 2009.  My opinions haven’t changed, and may have become even more surly.


Comments

Standardization, Administration, & Other Bollocky Things — 30 Comments

  1. Math-Aids.Com is a free resource for teachers and parents. You can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for children, the classroom or homework practice. The answer key is included with each math worksheet as it is created. The worksheets are randomly generated so when you request one it will be different every time. Each math topic has several different types of math problems so you may choose which area to focus on in that subject.

    I have built a special section just for Kindergarten Math Topics. There are 24 topics currently in this section. I will be glad to add any topic that you may need.
    Here is the link:

    Kindergarten Worksheets

    Please consider adding a link on your site for you and your readers.

    Thank you very much.

  2. Math-Aids.Com is a free resource for teachers and parents. You can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for children, the classroom or homework practice. The answer key is included with each math worksheet as it is created. The worksheets are randomly generated so when you request one it will be different every time. Each math topic has several different types of math problems so you may choose which area to focus on in that subject.

    I have built a special section just for Kindergarten Math Topics. There are 24 topics currently in this section. I will be glad to add any topic that you may need.
    Here is the link:

    Kindergarten Worksheets

    Please consider adding a link on your site for you and your readers.

    Thank you very much.

  3. This is a sore spot for me, especially recently. I used to be a HUGE supporter of homeschooling, but have since put my daughter in public school. Her first-grade year was fantastic. This year, however, there’s a new principal.

    We had two PTA Board meetings over the Summer, and she attended both of them. She talked quite a bit about how she wants to get the kids’ test scores to 800 so she can apply for distinguished school status. I want to scream at her that if we educate these children, bring back science and art and history, give them something to really LOVE about learning, their test scores will rise accordingly.

    If she turns this school into exam-cramming, I will pull Emily out and homeschool her. There’s no freakin’ way I’m putting her through that. No Child Left Behind, my ass.

  4. This is a sore spot for me, especially recently. I used to be a HUGE supporter of homeschooling, but have since put my daughter in public school. Her first-grade year was fantastic. This year, however, there’s a new principal.

    We had two PTA Board meetings over the Summer, and she attended both of them. She talked quite a bit about how she wants to get the kids’ test scores to 800 so she can apply for distinguished school status. I want to scream at her that if we educate these children, bring back science and art and history, give them something to really LOVE about learning, their test scores will rise accordingly.

    If she turns this school into exam-cramming, I will pull Emily out and homeschool her. There’s no freakin’ way I’m putting her through that. No Child Left Behind, my ass.

  5. Pingback: They Answered My Question | Tending the Eclectic Kinder-Garden

  6. Pingback: They Answered My Question | Tending the Eclectic Kinder-Garden

  7. Hello, ‘Cita. Thanks for that link to the Stupid Lady, for I hadn’t seen it before. Now I’m beginning to think I was cheated, because they made me take BOTH math and social studients in high school AND in college. And I could have been out having a good time (which, of course, I did anyway).

  8. Hello, ‘Cita. Thanks for that link to the Stupid Lady, for I hadn’t seen it before. Now I’m beginning to think I was cheated, because they made me take BOTH math and social studients in high school AND in college. And I could have been out having a good time (which, of course, I did anyway).

  9. What do Americans value? … Lindsay and Britney and Brangelina and TomKat and celeb sightings and scores…

    You forgot (gasp, with trembling lips) PARIS! HILTON! (TM)

    Their Mythic heroes are Mohammed, Osama bin Ladin, and Mohammed.
    Ours are Britney, Lindsay, and PARIS!
    Who’s your money on to be more inspired to win?

  10. What do Americans value? … Lindsay and Britney and Brangelina and TomKat and celeb sightings and scores…

    You forgot (gasp, with trembling lips) PARIS! HILTON! (TM)

    Their Mythic heroes are Mohammed, Osama bin Ladin, and Mohammed.
    Ours are Britney, Lindsay, and PARIS!
    Who’s your money on to be more inspired to win?

  11. What will archaeologists find a thousand years from now when they dig up what remains of America? A lot of crumbling gymnasiums and enough rock-hard fossilized breast and lip-shaped collagen to sink a ship?

    To paraphrase T.S.Eliot:

    “This was a decent godless people. All they left behind were ruins of casinos and millions of used Viagra pill vials.”

  12. What will archaeologists find a thousand years from now when they dig up what remains of America? A lot of crumbling gymnasiums and enough rock-hard fossilized breast and lip-shaped collagen to sink a ship?

    To paraphrase T.S.Eliot:

    “This was a decent godless people. All they left behind were ruins of casinos and millions of used Viagra pill vials.”

  13. Not a big fan of standardized testing. The VA Standards of Learning are a complete joke! The kids spend eons (OK, years) learning by rote so that they can spew forth the answers when called upon and then graduate from high school. They learn nothing creative, nor artsy, in the process. Oh, well, The direction of public education continues to frustrate me. I yearn for distractions! Speaking of which, come join the fun for the Silly Summer Sunday Sweepstakes. Come share the Caption Love with us–we’ve got a good one this week!

  14. Not a big fan of standardized testing. The VA Standards of Learning are a complete joke! The kids spend eons (OK, years) learning by rote so that they can spew forth the answers when called upon and then graduate from high school. They learn nothing creative, nor artsy, in the process. Oh, well, The direction of public education continues to frustrate me. I yearn for distractions! Speaking of which, come join the fun for the Silly Summer Sunday Sweepstakes. Come share the Caption Love with us–we’ve got a good one this week!

  15. Georgia is in a world of hurt. Clayton County schools are de-accredited, because the schoolboard screwed up:

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2008/02/school-board-sc.html

    I look at parents who let their kids “train” year-round for a seasonal team sport like they have two heads. (But disclosure: my daughter did 2 sports year round, because they don’t have “seasons” — horseback riding & martial arts.)

    Look at the private school chains that are going gangbusters, like Challenger. They BOAST about seatwork and worksheets for the pre-kindergarten set.

    Sheesh.

    Cramming a lot of facts in our kids’ heads and then asking them to bubble them right back is not the same thing as educating them. ” — Mamacita

    That’s going on the quote wall.

  16. Georgia is in a world of hurt. Clayton County schools are de-accredited, because the schoolboard screwed up:

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2008/02/school-board-sc.html

    I look at parents who let their kids “train” year-round for a seasonal team sport like they have two heads. (But disclosure: my daughter did 2 sports year round, because they don’t have “seasons” — horseback riding & martial arts.)

    Look at the private school chains that are going gangbusters, like Challenger. They BOAST about seatwork and worksheets for the pre-kindergarten set.

    Sheesh.

    Cramming a lot of facts in our kids’ heads and then asking them to bubble them right back is not the same thing as educating them. ” — Mamacita

    That’s going on the quote wall.

  17. Not gonna argue here, it’s all a big reason why I left teaching. And I can’t believe I’m about to defend coaches here…there are a LOT of band directors who do the same thing to kids. All or nothing. I’ve seen it, they’re out there.

  18. Not gonna argue here, it’s all a big reason why I left teaching. And I can’t believe I’m about to defend coaches here…there are a LOT of band directors who do the same thing to kids. All or nothing. I’ve seen it, they’re out there.

  19. Great. I’m in Georgia for ONE WEEK and I read about this person.

    Just grand.

    Actually, I’m not surprised. There are many people (I’m related to a few of them) who believe that if science says something different than religion, than science can be successfully ignored – even though though science and religion are two distinct spheres.

    WF

  20. Great. I’m in Georgia for ONE WEEK and I read about this person.

    Just grand.

    Actually, I’m not surprised. There are many people (I’m related to a few of them) who believe that if science says something different than religion, than science can be successfully ignored – even though though science and religion are two distinct spheres.

    WF

  21. I love everything about this post.

    The chick in the Georgia stupid tree? The one who also thinks kids can succeed in the world without social studies? Unbelievable.

    Unfortunately, the way we are going I think our country is going to fall a lot farther than out of a tree. Most of us have completely lost touch with what’s important. The arts are what keeps us in touch with our humanity, what reminds us of who we are, where we came from, and of what we’re capable. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are a prime example. How moving was that?

  22. I love everything about this post.

    The chick in the Georgia stupid tree? The one who also thinks kids can succeed in the world without social studies? Unbelievable.

    Unfortunately, the way we are going I think our country is going to fall a lot farther than out of a tree. Most of us have completely lost touch with what’s important. The arts are what keeps us in touch with our humanity, what reminds us of who we are, where we came from, and of what we’re capable. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are a prime example. How moving was that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *