I got my first teaching job two years ago, right out of college. At the time, I posted this:
"The school has no art, music, gym, recess, or extra-curriculars. These were all shut down because of low test scores.
The school itself is on the verge of being shut down by the government (depending on this year's test scores)."
Bruin Fisher replied with this:
"Cool. You will hit the school like a tornado. Its grades will shoot through the roof, the kids will become well-motivated, the arts courses will be re-established."
I have my suspicions that Mr. Fisher might be a psychic. Or a witch. Here's what's happened:
The incompetent teachers and abusive administrators were kicked to the curb.
We now have art, music, gym, and an after school program.
We put on school plays every six weeks.
Our test scores have shot up, making us one of the best performing public schools in the area.
I don't have the data from other teachers, but my kids went up an average of two and a half grade levels in the last year.
I'm happy about the test scores. But seriously, who cares about test scores? Any educator you ask will tell you how ridiculous standardized tests are. Until kids have standardized lives, standardized parental support, standardized health, and standardized neighborhoods, standardized tests will always be BS.
Yeah, I teach my kids to read. But you'll know which ones are mine because they'll be smiling. They'll be the ones juggling and performing slight-of-hand tricks. They'll be the ones wearing goofy hats and reciting poems while standing on one foot. They'll be standing on tables and role-playing characters from fiction and history. They'll be singing their answers and reading aloud in different accents every day.
Officially, I'm going against the curriculum. The administration and the government say that I'm supposed to take kids who can't read and teach them how to fake it well enough to bluff their way through a standardized test. But when no one's looking, I close the door and teach them to read.
Screw the tests. Screw the standards. Let's teach.