Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is The Bus Taking My Child Somewhere That Will Make A Difference?

As I watched my five-year old (Mary Clare) board the bus for her first day of Kindergarten this morning, I couldn't help wondering about the education she will receive over the next 13 years in her public education.

Will Mary Clare  be educated in a similar fashion to her grandfather and father or will she experience something a bit different?

Will Mary Clare be part of an educational system that is driven by standardized test scores or a system that focuses on individual strengths and a love of learning?

How long will the excitement to board the bus and go to school last for Mary Clare? As I focus on these questions, I wonder how other parents feel when they watch their students leave for school each day. What questions and hopes to they have? Are they concerned about standardized test scores as much as our policy makers are?  Or do they have similar parental concerns to mine?

My hopes for Mary Clare are pretty simple.  I want her to be part of a system that values her as an individual and allows her to follow her passions.   A line from a blog post from Will Richardson hit home for me in regards to the path that our nation's schools are headed down with our focus on standardized testing.
We’ve become so dependent on the test to tell us about our students that we know less and less about who they really are. And without really knowing them, how can we help them reach their individual potentials? 
The last thing any of our Mary Clare needs is the same lock-step routine our schools have been following for the last century. Mary Clare needs an educational setting where risk-taking is encouraged and problem-solving is the focal point.  If the most important thing is for Mary Clare to come up with the right answer to a question that can be Googled then all I need to do is get her to improve her keyboarding skills.

On the eve of our first day with students at BHS, I wonder how the parents of our students feel?  On the same note, I wonder how our students feel?

Hopefully they do not feel like the theme of Seth Godin's post from this week titled "Back to (the wrong) school."


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  2. Great stuff, Pat! Amazing that I was having this same conversation in my head this morning with my own child. I don't even want to hear the word testing when it comes to the education of my children. It makes them nervous, generalizes their abilities, ignores individual exceptionalism, and simply doesn't tell us a single thing about their growth. Plus, I can't think of a single career that I would hope for them in which testing is a regular practice. I am trying in my district to build mass customization and to drive communication, collaboration, and creative problem solving as apex skills and I know you are as well. Hopefully, others will join us and all our children will get what they deserve. Good luck with another school year but I know you don't need it...great post.

  3. Exactly, schools have become more focused on meeting quotas and getting every kid to know all the same things that they seldom take the time to get to know the kid and push what is important to the student him or herself. Instead of teaching so each kid can succeed and what they have potential in, schools put a curriculum out there because of standardized testing and focus more on that than individual academic strengths-
    TJ Horgan, Freshman BHS