What Are We Doing?

Today was a defining moment for me in my educational career. Today I encountered a question from a high school junior as we were discussing the founding of the American colonies in the early 1600s. The student asked a question about the pilgrims using the automobile. I was not sure how to respond, other than to correct and clarify that the auto came almost 400 years later.

After my day ended and I was able to reflect on this young adult's question, I had only one thing on my mind...

What are we doing?

Here is what I see. But I am only a professional educator, what do I know? I see students that are lacking so much real-world knowledge that are one year away from high school graduation. My classroom is filled with the "Standardization Generation", who know nothing other than math, reading and writing. We are developing children to pass a test... that is all. I challenge any politician, superintendent, principal that says otherwise. I challenge them to step foot in my classroom and answer the questions of my students.

Is Detroit a state? Did the Pilgrims drive cars? The Pacific Ocean is off the east coast of Florida. What is a state?

What are we doing?

These "Standardization Generation" students have become "dumbed" down by the standardization of education. This is a fact. I do not care what research says; I do not care what experts say; I do not care what districts demand. We are selling a generation of students short, and the public systems are failing them. These children will not be able to function post "public school". Sure, they'll be able to read a little, write a little, and do a little math. However, what happens when this students sits in a college classroom? What happens when this student interviews for a position? What happens when this student has to teach his or her children? Shame on us.

What are we doing?

More to come...

Mike Meechin


Lynn Rambo said...

Mike - I share your pain!
I too teach high school social studies and frequently find my students unaware of seemingly simple facts and common knowledge (like finding the Great Lakes on a wall map of the US). I've recently been in discussions with colleagues about our neglect of what's truly meaningful in exchange for teaching to the test. I spoke with an elementary teacher in my doctoral program just yesterday and she shared that her social studies curricular units (IF they get taught at all due to STEM emphasis) are totally stand alone -- no continuity at all. Where's the logic?
We have SO much work to do :)

Mike Meechin said...

Lynn, thanks for your response. I would like to say that it is nice to know that someone is in the same boat. However, I think that it is quite the opposite. Unfortunately, my fear is that it is a pretty big boat, with lots of educators on board.

You said it... we have so much work to do. Baby steps, baby steps.

Michele said...

I completely agree. As somewhat of a new teacher (I have only been teaching for 6 years), I have found that students can no longer think for themselves. Their ability to critically analyze information is seriously lacking. The standardization of classroom is limiting the students ability to think outside the box. On state tests there is always an answer. Even if it requires thinking, the students still have some guidance with five answer choices. When I ask my students to get a blank piece of paper and draw a picture of part of story we read and reviewed together, I get blank stares. It's sad and scary to think that these students are the future of this country.

Kelsey said...

"The standardization of classroom is limiting the students ability to think outside the box."

If you want to see the long term effects of this, visit a South Korean school. I taught in South Korea for a year, where the kids take high-pressure tests that are the source of the majority of their grade, and even higher-pressure tests which will determine what middle school/high school/university they will attend. Their entire educational system is based around standardized testing and rote memorization, and as a result, the kids are drones. I have met 6 year olds with more critical thinking ability than most of my middle/high school students displayed there. It was really incredible to see what happens to students when you don't ask them to think.

Johnathan said...

I really don't think this is the main problem. It might be one of them, but I think another is that the class moves at the speed of the slowest student. I got around this by reading a lot; in third grade, my peers were learning single digit multiplication. I was learning square roots and celebrating my new amateur radio technician's license.

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