Of all the issues swirling around education, this is the one that keeps me up nights.
What about the littles?
There are plenty of terrible things happening in the world of education, but nothing is more heartbreaking than the transformation of kindergarten into first grade, the sudden "need" for four year olds to start learning letters and numbers and colors because now these children "need" to get ready for kindergarten. The sitting. The studying. The homework. The standardized testing for small children who should be playing and socializing and learning about the wonder and joy of being in the world. It all seems designed to crush the most vulnerable spirits we are entrusted with.
Marie Amoruso has been a teacher, an author and adjunct professor at Teachers College Columbia University, and Manhattanville College. She runs a consulting agency, and she has created a short film about this very subject. Yes, "More Than a Test Score" is not exactly a groundbreaking title, and yes, her delivery is at times a little over-fraught and yes, she kind of muddies Common Core in with other issues. But when she turns her camera on the classrooms of young children, she cuts right to the heart of what is so deeply wrong with the test-centered school movement. In seventeen minutes, with the help of several interview subjects, she addresses what children need and what they aren't getting, and she takes us right into the classrooms to see the effects.
Teachers know what to do-- the issue, as she lays it out, is getting the freedom to let them do it. In the absence of that, students learn to hate school.
I'm not sure how we can save the public school system if this is the way it starts. And my concerns are not just professional, but also personal-- I have twin sons on the way in just a few months, which means that my wife and I have about four or five years to figure out whether or not the local pubic school can be trusted to treat our children well.