Actual words spoken by a third grader in my class on Monday as we began math:
“We don’t need to do math anymore. The test is over.”
Let’s take a step back and realize what this means. A 9-year old already has it in his mind that the only point of school is to take a test. Therefore, all learning and work that occurs in school can only be important if it comes before a test and/or appears on a test. That means that school ends when the tests end, and now, with over 30 days left, I am no longer a teacher, but a babysitter.
I am struggling at present to find any more damning indictment of the testing fervor that, with impossibly strong hands has choked the life out of education for an entire generation and is methodically killing off the joys of learning from more and more kids’ lives each day. From day one of the school year, kids are ingrained to believe that nothing matters more than the test.
With much math still to cover, the challenge now is to motivate the kids to do it by keeping it interesting. When working through organized list word problems today, we started by figuring out all the possible orders in which one could use the playground. The kids also found spontaneous joy in noticing – of their own volition – multiplication arrays around the room.
I find myself saying nearly everyday, “This isn’t going to be on a test, but it’s an example of how we use math every single day!” It works for some kids, but there are some who just can’t distance themselves from their rigid belief that nothing matters except for the test.
Another example of every child being left behind.