professornana (professornana) wrote,

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The Bright Side

You know, that guy Einstein is a pretty smart dude. I have often seen his quote about the value of sharing fairy tales with our kids, but yesterday I ran across a link to a past Brain Pickings post which gave me a bit more background: But the real gem in this piece on Einstein comes toward the end when Einstein declares, "how far superior an education that stresses independent action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on drill, external authority and ambition."

I think about all of the fuss and furor with the testing going on in Texas and across the country. I watched a news report yesterday about our Lt. Governor who is trying to make a school superintendent step down over a policy for transgender students using the school's bathrooms. Aside from the fact that the school policy has been in place for 5 years (something the local news managed to overlook), they showed an hysterical parent practically crying that this stuff was all happening during testing time. Oh, horrors! In this one 60 second story we have the "drill, external authority and ambition" of which Einstein spoke. Testing and political oneupsmanship. Sigh.

But I want to go beyond yesterday and the one story that was so juicy it was "breaking news (and how I am growing to despise that phrase)." When schools are so focused on testing and the results of those tests, surely we have lost sight of the purpose of school. When we narrow its purpose to "college and career readiness, when we have others insist it also needs to make kids "life ready" (i.e., financial knowledge, all manner of skills to survive once they are on their own, etc.), I feel the squeeze. And we do feel it even at the university level, too.

And there is more each time I turn to the news. Charter schools cheating so their test scores look good. Add that to the research, the real research, that indicates charters do not do any better than the traditional public schools. Blend in the reformists who seek to make changes because they once attended school and know how to make schools better despite the handicap of not having any background in teaching.

It is easy sometimes to want to hang it all up. I am at an age where I could retire. But I still love the teaching. More importantly, I love the LEARNING. There is not a day goes by that I do not read something that inspires me, ignites a new idea, makes me think about how to be better. I see Colby and John and Katherine and Donalyn and Cindy and Liz and Sophie and Jennifer and Angie and I think, "Wow." So, while I do tend to rant and rave here, know that I am still seeing the bright light, those lights that go off over kids' heads, those lights that shine from the pages of a book, that light that beams from an educator who is working to do what is right despite the odds stacked against her or him.

I know Teacher Appreciation Day and Week has passed, but I will always be appreciative of all you do.
Tags: sturm and drang
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