Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's missing?

The more I experience children (and teachers) whose minds are shackled by high stakes tests and the exertion of limiting standards, the more I recognize the students’ muffled cries, begging for the one thing the school is hiding from their grasp. Any idea what necessity for human wellness is missing? I will give you a clue…it’s not anxiety or intimidation.

 Figure it out? How about a relationship?! What is more motivating or inspiring than when a person invests in You? Oh, I mean You, the person. Not You, the test score.
 Unfortunately states and legislators are convincing teachers and students not to care for one another. I recently received the scores of my students that allegedly show their “growth” and my “effectiveness” as a teacher (or lack their of). I must say I was very disappointed. Then I was even more disappointed when I realized that I’d begun to actually consider this number important. Because the minute I focus on this piece of data is the time I devalue the wellness of the whole individual child.
 It’s scary that I even need to argue for the importance of relationships. 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 states, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” Our students need a solid foundation, preventing destruction amidst a volatile world. Our students will naturally be motivated when they accurately view themselves as being uniquely made with a unique purpose in the world. The aspect of relationship can bridge the gap in our students, getting them from knowledge to a destination of wisdom. We are disconnecting from our students in a place and time that boasts connectedness.
 Our maker divinely made us to learn through relationship. He gave us the ultimate example of The Teacher, who loved first, is unthinkably accessible, and has incomprehensibly sacrificed. If I can give my students a glimmer of the power a Godly relationship can hold, the state can call me “ineffective” all they want.
 To give you an idea where our values are:
"Guiding Light" Jessilyn Park
 The U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently defended the new standards (Common Core) when parents opposed it. Duncan argued that “white suburban moms” are suddenly realizing their children aren’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t as good as they thought. I think the parents’ love their child for the person he is and the potential he’s been given. The parents recognize that these standards don’t consider important parts of their child and restrain their gifts.
You can probably tell by the Secretary’s comments that fostering supporting, encouraging relationships is far from being the priority.