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A concerned member of the human race

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Forty Minutes a Day

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I have forty minutes a day to try to change a life, five days a week, September through June.  Let's not even talk now about the huge problem of sporadic student absence that academically dooms too many.  In those forty minutes, I may have thirty-four separate lives before me (on a good day).  I am one person.  I do my best.  I don't know if I can change lives for the better.  I can try to lead by example though.  

There are 1400 minutes in a student's day spent outside of my class.  I'm guessing most teenagers spend only a small percentage of these minutes thinking about my class.   They may have six or seven other classes.  Besides, teenagers have more immediate concerns.  They are teenagers.  Teachers compete against active social lives.  I cannot equal their phone.  I compete against twenty-first century entertainment.  I lack explosions and car chases.  These are battles that cannot easily be won.

I am told to prioritize prepping students for standardized tests during this time.   These tests are purposefully designed with cut scores set to fail the majority of kids.  I'd prefer to teach kids to think critically.  I'd prefer to teach kids to think creatively.  I'd prefer to teach students to question.  I'd prefer to do more current events.  I'd prefer to encourage students to debate.  I'd prefer to help students earn greater self-confidence.  

I didn't become a teacher to teach to a test that attempts to teach kids that they and their teachers are failures.  Strip "reformers" of their answer keys and let their children suffer through the surrealistic test-obsessed culture they have worked so hard to create for the rest of us.  How much do you think they would be loving their "reforms" then?

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