My aspiration from childhood was to teach. A teacher of young children. To make an impact and shape the lives of little ones, allowing them to open their minds and reach for their dreams. I wanted to teach children to love learning.
And as the hopes became reality, I did love teaching. There were moments within the stack of goals and objectives, within the neatly planned lessons, the required testing and grading system, and piles of required workbooks, where the shining eyes of excitement and realization shone through in my students.
But I found teaching difficult. And not quite what I expected. It was not that teaching itself was hard for me, but to reach so many students in a very meaningful way, whose learning styles were so individually unique was a challenge that I did not want to fail. Because then I would be failing my students.
As time has gone by and my own two children have entered the modern school system, it has changed my views even more so. They have had the pleasure of being in classrooms with extremely loving and talented teachers. The early childhood system they’ve experienced has helped them overcome speech and language challenges, and built their confidence and excitement for learning through meaningful, hands-on experiences.
But then there is a shift in teaching styles that takes place by early elementary. It seems drastic and discouraging to me as a parent. There is no doubt that these teachers pour their heart and soul into their job, and genuinely strive to meet the needs of their students. However, they are bogged down by requirements and expectations to create perfect little test takers.
In a school system that supposedly strives to accept every child’s unique qualities and learning styles, why then must every child be expected to learn the same concepts at exactly the same time and be measured by these test results?
Assessment tests…I understand the need to assess how well students have mastered the skills that are necessary to thrive as members of society. It is a neat, tidy way to graph results and present data to parents and administrators. But as more and more emphasis is placed on these results, the love of learning seems to be zapped right from these curious little beings. Now the expectations are not to instill a love of learning and reading, but to drill students on how to answer the computerized tests questions in order to make the school look better.
When I watch my two boys use creativity and imagination direct their play and interests at home, I realize that I want more for them each and every hour of every day. When I see their enthusiasm wane after leaving a play centered preschool environment and transition into a stressful, test centered classroom, it makes me wonder if there is a better way.
Do you think there is a better way to educate our children today?