I just read an extended essay (short book), by Will Richardson entitled, “Why School?” that has left me pondering our jobs as educators. While so much of how teachers are evaluated is linked to antiquated, high-stakes testing, the true value of teachers is not. We have all suffered through that class. The one that has a very knowledgeable teacher. The one that gets the high test scores. The one that told us the important information, so we too could perform. This was also the class where we worked on other homework, wrote notes to our friends, and doodled – a lot! The teacher was going to spoon-feed us the relevant information so we could pass the test and make him (or her) look good! But what did we learn? I can tell you very little about the content in these classes, because I didn’t learn. I absorbed the tested information long enough to pass the test.
How many of our teachers do the same thing today? With the stress and importance linked to “passing the test,” how can we blame them? Where do we go from here? How to we initiate a change in a system that has been around for so many years?
While I do not have many answers, I do have a few. I am going to share this book with my colleagues, administrators, and politicians! Policy changes need to take place, but teachers can institute changes in their classrooms and schools. As my child will graduate this year, I am thinking about what schools will look like for my grandchildren. We must stand up and push for change in the way students and teachers are educated and evaluated!