Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Jay Mathews is a goon

I mean.
So why do we still talk about how terrible it is to teach to the test? I think it comes from our fear of the unknown. Those of us who are not teachers don't know what is going on in our children's classrooms. And teachers don't know what harm might come to them from the test results, as interpreted by often-wrongheaded people such as principals, superintendents, politicians and, particularly, parents.
Tomorrow, my son takes his first NCLB test: the 3rd grade reading TAKS. According to the powers behind this test, there are two kinds of reading: creative and technical. Creative reading uses deductive and inductive reasoning, while technical writing only uses deductive reasoning. Making connections between a text and real life is "creative reading." Creative reading isn't tested on the TAKS. Only technical reading is. But the test-makers will try to "trick" children (the teacher's words) into using inductive reasoning, by putting things into the reading samples that children may make associations with (like "my grandmother"). These associations will pull them away from the "correct," technical reading answers. In other words, inductive reasoning and personal connections with texts are, for the purposes of the TAKS, wrong.

When they explained this to me Thursday night at "TAKS Night," I suddenly realized why my son had not brought home a library book in six months. And why his teacher doesn't read to the class anymore. Creative reading is a habit that must be broken if all the kids are going to do well on the TAKS.

When I was in third grade, my teacher read us "Charlotte's Web." In George Bush's America, that's a dangerous text.


Post a Comment

<< Home