. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Shame on Me

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shame on Me

Do you know what I said yesterday?

Do you KNOW what I said?!?!

Well, I'll tell ya, I crossed a line. I crossed a line, and I can never go back.

I can't unsay it.

My students can't unhear it.

It's as permanent as the marker stain on my left index finger that won't go away because I always miss when recapping my whiteboard marker.

(Deep breath)

I was teaching my students about figurative language; specifically about how to recognize the difference between similes and metaphors.

An innocent query came from the back of the room. Why do we have to learn this?

What I should have said: Because learning how to recognize figurative language is the first step to being able to use it in your own writing, which will make you a better, more interesting, more vivid writer. Good writers have a big bag of tricks they can pull from so that their writing doesn't become boring and uninteresting. I want you to have as big a bag of tricks as possible.

But I was thinking: Good Question, Kid! Why DO you have to learn this? Many of you have only been speaking English for a few years, only speak it in the classroom, and don't even know the basics about how to write a simple sentence yet because I am forced to spend weeks on figurative language instead of teaching you the skills you really need. In addition, I'll bet millions upon millions of people live productive and fruitful lives without knowing the nuanced differences between similes and metaphors. That being said, I would LOVE to teach you this skill after I felt you'd had enough time to learn the prerequisite skills necessary to even use figurative language in a sentence. 

So I said: Because it's on the state test.

(Pause for dramatic effect)

Yup. I admitted to them, and to myself, (and now to you) that I was teaching them something simply so they can pass it on that stupid state test.

(GASP! oooooOOOOoooo... She said "stuuuuUUupid!")

I am ashamed.

And a bit brainwashed.

Have I really succumb to the mentality that because it's on that test, it's a life skill my kids need?

Have I lost all perspective on what students REALLY need and now I am simply checking off skills found on the state test?

Looks like I have.

But at least I'm not the only one. Here's a funny from Learning Laffs.

Number 8 was my personal favorite.



Ginger Snaps said...

That video is too funny! But you know what, I think many people in title I schools feel this pressure because we are constantly being told we aren't doing enough to make sure our kids pass, yet we are doing so much more than most teachers at regular schools who don't face those challenges everyday. It is a shame that education has come to this. I mean, yes, I want our kids to pass, but I feel like I don't have a life sometimes because I dedicate so much to school work.

Michael said...

Hi there,

I'm a beginning teacher and stumbled across your blog and really enjoyed the posts. I very much enjoyed reading this one because it sounded so real. I can really picture myself in the classroom and maybe even imagining the reactions of your students when you said you were teaching for the test! By the way, I think it's great that you were reflecting on what you said so can hopefully say it the way you intended to next time something like this happens!