Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unalienable Right

Maybe I am wrong but sometimes the best way to learn something is by failing it first. The second time around can be the charm.

Have we taken the right to fail away from our students by dummying down tests so much that failure of regular students is impossible? Have we given students courses that are easy to pass instead of courses that will prepare them for the future? Have we taken away the right to fail?

1 comment:

Schoolgal said...

In many ways this applies to so many parents who make life so easy for their kids. If I had a penny every time my niece said, "My kids need it." as an excuse to spend money she didn't have. Or parents making excuses for kids not behaving in class or doing homework. I once had a parent tell me she did not want to violate her son's privacy by going through his bookbag. The kid was in 4th grade!!! I had to tell the mother that she was the parent, not the child and that's what parents do. It's all about their kids feeling good and being happy.

Schools are making the same mistake by thinking all kids can pass and tying that to teacher evaluations. Years ago the NYTimes ran a series following one NYC teacher who used the TC reading and writing program in an inner-city school. I followed this series and said to myself no matter what he does, he will not get every kid to pass because of the diversity of problems within his class. This guy worked so hard and was so dedicated. And still, one-third of his students did indeed fail the ELA. (I later met this same guy when he became my instructor at TC's Summer Institute.)

If one-third of your class receives ELL, Resource Room, Reading and Math pullout, Guidance, etc., you hope to see them make great gains, yet that always doesn't mean a passing grade. The fact that these kids have a different learning curve only means that they need more time to catch up. We know enough about how the brain functions to know that test prep 24/7 is not the answer. Learning is a process not a shot in the arm.

To quote my girlfriend when I asked her how her kids did on the State tests, she replied, "Oh! Don't you know? They are all bloody geniuses!!" And so they get passed to the next grade--and Bloomberg keeps saying he got rid of social promotion.