What if...

What if our education system was designed completely different? What if students didn't have to "graduate", didn't have to attend a set amount of years? What if they didn't have to pass tests in core subjects to move on with their lives?

I've been teaching for nine years, not long enough to see the pendulum swing as so many of my senior teachers have described cyclically occurs in education. Instead, year after year, high stakes testing has progressively intensified. I don't even know what education looks like without these tests. My students don't know what education is like without these tests.

I don't even believe "these tests" do everything they are supposedly designed to do.

They are supposed to ensure that no students are slipping through the cracks. They are supposed to ensure that teachers are instructing effectively. They are supposed to ensure that entire schools and districts are functioning under equal expectations across our states and country. But how exactly is a test supposed to do this?

High stakes testing does not make sure that our students come to school any more prepared or supported. It does not motivate students nor impress upon them a pride of accomplishment if their culture and society does not actually value education in the first place. It does not provide an equal footing in regards to curriculum, training, or any additional resources for schools that cater primarily to low Socio-Economic areas. Above all, these tests do no allow teachers to teach "outside the box" because every...single...element of the school day is dependent on how the students perform.

What if we wanted to raise a society of thinkers, not test takers? What if our students participated in classrooms where imagination and problem seeking and real life skills are the true focus? What if students graduated not just with a diploma including a piece of paper showcasing passing scores on the state test they took as 10th graders, but actual abilities that they can transfer and mesh directly into their occupations?

What if we didn't expect everyone to pass?

An education is the one tool our society has the opportunity to provide our children; a tool that could potentially benefit everyone's future. The problem is that everyone is so worried about the tests, we've left no room for actual learning.  

I wonder how our subjects could look...how our lessons could evolve.

I envision classrooms enriched with imagination and purpose, full of worthwhile student activity. This is an aspect of the education cycle I have yet to see.









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