I’m just a little bummed out…but it will pass

I know it’s Friday and I should be really happy, but I’ve just been a little bummed out about blogging in general. I’ve suddenly become incredibly self-conscious about anything I write. I know this can be the death-knoll for a blogger and a creativity killer, but I’ll get over it eventually. Nun with a ruler

I know I’ve said my piece once or twice about the focus on standardized testing in our schools. My gut simply tells me that focusing on teaching to these tests just saps or draws away any interest that people may have even had in learning. I also suspect that it really negatively affects the joys many teachers find in their jobs. Moreover, it can’t help that students perceive the anxiety from the principal, parents and teachers. Still, while I was reviewing research on why some people are better problem solvers than others, I had this thought this morning that perhaps there might be a way to make prepping for tests perhaps a little more engaging. For example, in taking a particular math problem on a test… perhaps teachers could throw it out there to the students so they can solve it together and share their logic and process. They could also work together to verbalize and explain how they solved the problem. I had teachers who did this but for some reason when they called us to the front of the room it aways felt like we were in the limelight performing in front of a dead audience who didn’t really get what we were talking about. It was more of a chore than anything else. Though considering where education and pedagogy were when the paddle and ruler had their active role in classroom management, I think we had it pretty easy.

I found this really neat nation-wide project called The National Math Trail. The Project is described on the website:

The National Math Trail is an opportunity for K-12 teachers and students to discover and share the math that exists in their own environments. Students explore their communities and create one or more math problems that relate to what they find. Teachers submit the problems to the National Math Trail site, along with photos, drawings, sound recordings, videos–whatever can be adapted to the Internet. All submissions will be posted to the site as they are submitted. They are also be indexed according to grade level and math topic and will remain on the site for access by educators, students and parents.

What I love about this effort it it allows teachers and students to learn from the real-life examples of real kids; it bring the mathematical interpretation of our surroundings alive from the view points of real people outside of a text book. I found what Kay Toliver, one of the founders of the project, said inspiring: “Mathematics is a subject in which we have to create thinkers not memorizers.” Okay… so how can we get them to think and still get them to pass these tests? It seems like a stupid question, but it’s not. Here’s another chicken-egg conundrum… but maybe we have to teach them to think before they can pass the tests… and just practicing taking tests or teaching to the tests isn’t enough. Sorry… I’m just venting, but that too will pass.

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3 Responses to “I’m just a little bummed out…but it will pass”


  1. 1 jltitus November 9, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Sorry to hear you’re bummed out but you’re right, it will pass. I find myself constantly telling myself to blog more and do this and that, but sometimes you’ve just got to take time out for yourself. When blogging becomes a chore you know you need a rest.

  2. 2 Rory November 10, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Go ahead and vent … the current practice of teaching to the test so that state funding won’t be cut off is a major peeve of mine. Any contribution to the conversation about how we’re numbing the minds of our next generations is helpful.

    Cool link, too. Thanks for that.

  3. 3 seacat November 10, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Voice of sanity: Illegitimi Non Carborundum


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