As always, the people I follow on twitter always get me thinking and this is what it is this morning. I saw this link from Steve Johnson, @edtechsteve , from an article in the Charlotte Observer about teacher evaluations and tying pay to student performance. http://bit.ly/gXIRkE. There is much talk about tying teacher salaries, bonuses, and even re-hires into student test scores. The general public that I have access to and talk to about this usually agree that teachers should be paid, fired , promoted according to student test scores as they haven’t been in a classroom or they are going with what they grew up with in terms of what a classroom is/should be today. “It was good enough for me, it’s good enough still.”
As a Geography teacher, and one who doesn’t have a standardized test at the end of the course, it is getting beyond upsetting that most in the United States don’t understand how education has changed (or should be changing) as our children today will be dealing with all the current events in our world more than ever before. It is a global, interconnected world that only a person who understands all the nuances of those words will be able to work and live in this world. Our students are the future, and as cliché as that is, I have not seen a time when we need our students to understand cultures, geography, economics, science, art, business, communication, government, community, and global awareness more than now. It is not enough for young adults to come away from high school only being able to pass the standardized tests, to memorize information and not have an understanding to why they need to know that information. When will we wake up and get our students connecting? Understanding? Creating? Learning?
I know there are many great educators out there, but when major newspapers run stories like the one in the Charlotte Observer, it is what the public comes to expect. And all I see in most schools now during spring is standardized test practice because – let’s face it – teachers are judged on who “learned” based on those test scores (as much as we don’t want to admit it), there is a serious gap between what is important and what it is. As much as my school says they don’t put emphasis on test scores, we still have a faculty meeting about the results of those tests when they come in.
Students need educators who are willing to stand up and adjust the curriculum as world events happen. Students need educators who are willing to get out of their comfort zones and create deeper learning spaces. Students need educators who understand that learning is not memorizing. Students need educators who are willing to help students make connections to the world. Students need educators who are willing to step out and be the change.
The future is at stake.