Posts Tagged ‘Educational bureaucracy’

“Regular school” has returned, to everyone’s dismay

Yes, “regular school” has returned to UDS. The “why” is easy. Assessments. As the end of the school year approaches we are required, as a public charter school, to have students complete an array of assessments that show progress (or the lack thereof) as a part of our accountability to the state of Ohio.

So here we are, back again, spending most of our time as teachers trying to make students do what they don’t want to do. It is deadly. They don’t do it anyway. An assessment that should take minutes, or maybe an hour at the outside, takes days. Obviously this is because everyone is mostly fooling around, bothering other people, trying to do everything possible to NOT complete the test in front of them.

Students are stressed, teachers are stressed, as the principal I am stressed. Don’t these kids know this is important? Don’t they know this will affect their final grades? Frankly, they do know and they don’t care.

For the past two weeks, we saw what happens when we relinquish the need to try to force students to do what they don’t want to do and won’t do. Some students pursued academic topics–because they wanted to. The worked in a focussed, dedicated way and weren’t bothered by others. They got individualized teacher help when they needed and requested it. Other students chose not to spend much time on academics, but in general they worked on whatever they chose to do in a way that did not bother anyone else. Even if they chose “chatting,” they sat down and quietly chatted with their friends. It was all quite pleasant and stress-free.

So we wonder, which is better: a student who spends the day with an assessment in front of them, not working on it, making every excuse to do something else (which generally involves a bathroom trip or bothering someone else) OR that same student playing chess all day long (with a couple of PE breaks along the way), concentrating on that activity, disrupting no one. The answer would seem clear–but the educational bureaucracy forces us into the former situation. Is there any way that that can be good for kids and for instilling a passion for learning.