Monthly Archives: August 2014

Baked Chicken and Scrambled Eggs: Assessment Testing Run Amuck

This is your brain on testing.

This is your brain on testing.

I’ve written before about how assessment testing in the workplace has altered my point of view on standardized testing in schools. To summarize, although I still think basing a student’s (or more to the point, that student’s teacher’s) entire future on one test taken on one day is, to put it mildly, insane, I am no longer able to base this belief on the idea that testing creates a completely artificial situation in school that is unrepresentative of what a high-school graduate will face in the workplace.

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The Tale of the Three Regrets

I consider myself to be a very lucky person most of the time, because I don’t have very many regrets in my life. There are times I could have been kinder, and I do regret those sometimes, but I try to use those feelings as reminders to be kinder next time. For the most part, though, I’m pretty good about seizing the day, telling the people in my life that I love them, and doing the best I can under the circumstances.

Despite all of this, there are one or two regrets that I have in my life.

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Thinking and Knowing

Or, “You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but that doesn’t mean she’ll stop teaching!”

I tutor a lovely international student and her son on Sunday afternoons (naturally, this makes Sunday the highlight of my week). Today she and I had a really neat discussion about Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. I suggested she read it because many of the books she has read and enjoyed in English are more British, and I wanted to suggest something that is very American. We have also had discussions (began many months ago during a discussion of “The Grasshopper and the Ant”) about the Puritan Ethic, and I knew Arthur Miller’s commentary on life in Salem would provide insights into the Puritan Ethic that I was having trouble explaining. I’ve said for a long time that the Puritan Ethic is problematic for me, but it’s difficult to explain how it is problematic to someone who does not have the American version of that in his or her cultural consciousness.

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A Modest Proposal

In which I discuss a sensible, rational plan for making sure that teachers have enough instructional time to cover the standards required while simultaneously insuring that all required testing mandates are observed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about standardized testing over the last few weeks. Part of the impetus of this thinking is that the abundance of standardized testing was a big part of why I decided to leave common (K-12) education (despite the fact that I loved it more than any other job I’ve ever had), and it makes a good “short answer” when people ask why I don’t teach anymore. Of course, that’s far from the only answer, but most people don’t want to listen to an essay when they expected a one- or two-word answer. In a previous post, I discussed the ways in which preparing students to take standardized tests may not be quite as useless as most teachers claim, but I still don’t appreciate how much instructional time they require.

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