Monday, July 29, 2013

A Waste of Time

(Noun)  1. waste of time - the devotion of time to a useless activity; "the waste of time could prove fatal"
    waste, wastefulness, dissipation - useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly; "if the effort brings no compensating gain it is a waste"; "mindless dissipation of natural resources"
--from Free

So, the test scores go down in Howard County. You can read about that here.
You can read the Superintendent's piece on it here. You can read a thoughtful interpretation on HoCoRising here.

In short, test scores went down because what we are teaching has changed, but the tests haven't. I have seen a variety of points of view on this, but not the one I care about. Here goes:

Under these circumstances, taking the old MSA's was a waste of time. Yes, I know that assessment is required by law. "They had no choice." But still, I want the weight of this to sink in.

The powers that be in Maryland education, allowed, no, required students to participate in a major undertaking that was a waste of their time.  I find that horrifying.

Our children are valuable.  Their time and effort should be respected.

Lost time is never found again.
--Benjamin Franklin

Recess is cut back to increase "instructional time". Skill and drill programs are forced on schools and the end result is less time for hands-on creative, project-based learning. Schools are given Blue Ribbons for testing scores of Reading and Math alone, which perpetuates the narrow, time-wasting cycle.

In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure.
--Malcolm X

Have we shown our students the proper respect for their time? And if we have not, how could they fight back?  They are the ultimate stakeholders, yet they have no vote. I've often said that if babies were born with teeth, people would be much more reluctant to invade their personal space. By the same token, if students could bill at an hourly rate for the waste of their time, perhaps people would be more careful with it.

Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.
--Thomas J. Watson

I'm tired of responses that seem to say, "Don't worry parents, this is all what we expected." Or, "Don't worry, lawmakers and general public, this is a part of a long-range plan. We have it all under control."

Who is going to stand up and speak the truth?  "We apologize to teachers for keeping them from truly teaching. We apologize to administrators and school support staff for hindering you from your mission--creating a safe and nurturing environment for learning. We apologize to parents because you entrusted your children to us and we did not value them.  We processed them."

How about this? "We apologize to our students for wasting their time. Time they should have spent learning."

Do you think this is likely? Do you think anyone will take responsibility?

It may very well be time for parents to defend their children's rights by refusing to participate in the high stakes testing machine. In fact, that time is probably overdue. Childhood is fleeting. Teachable moments are precious.

If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
--John Wooden


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.