Here's an excerpt I particularly enjoyed:
I think our descendants will also condemn us for how we chose to educate children and teens in our school systems. I believe that future generations will decry the rote memorization approaches (practiced long after facts were readily available on hand-held computers) and which failed to address a changing world in need of innovative approaches to solving systemic problems. They will wonder why it took so long to transform schooling so that it was relevant to a changed and changing world and marvel that we suppressed our children’s creativity when it was so crucial to cultivate it. They will wonder how we made “competing in a global economy” our educational goal rather than educating a generation of solutionaries who could create systems that were humane, sustainable and just, and how we justified making children sit in chairs all day while we poured often outdated knowledge into their minds and tested them repeatedly in multiple choice formats rather than engaging their minds, hands, and hearts toward learning that helped them become engaged citizens and changemakers through whatever careers they pursued.
I was equally struck by Kirsten Olsen's comment:
Zoe, Yesterday my husband was observing an elementary classroom in a nearby state. The children in this room, aged 7-8, were sitting in desks lined up in rows, and the teacher had used her own money to buy cardboard shields that the children had to place around themselves at their desks. The shields were high enough so that you couldn’t see anything around you, or anyone around you, and you couldn’t interact at all with anyone. Behind their shields, the children were completing worksheets on blending “gr” sounds and “tr” sounds. The children were to sit behind their shields for their entire “literacy block,” and they use these shields for all seat work (math, social studies), every day. They would be graded on their worksheets.
The teacher calls the children’s desks “offices.”
Both Zoe and Kirsten inspired this comment from me:
I often think about how the students who have been oppressed by today’s test and punish accountability. Sometimes I think about how these kids will grow up and become our future teachers, superintendents and Secretary of Education and devote themselves to never doing to their own children what was done to them.
But then I think of how victims tend to become victimizers and how the pedagogy of poverty tends to make evangelical converts of its pupils. “It was good enough for me…”
I really do fear that getting out of education hell will take even more effort than it took to get here.
When educational historians look back upon this accountability era, I believe this will be labelled some of the darkest days of education - if not only because we should have known better.