Super “off topic”…
In 3rd or 4th grade, my best friend and I were taken out of our home room class and tested for a talented and gifted program(TAG). My head swelled as I’m certain I strutted my stuff right to the testing room. My best friend got into the program with flying colors but they “didn’t have room” for another student, at least that’s what I was told. So at age 9, I swallowed the idea of NOT having talent or possessing any gifts. Wtf?
Fast forward 38 years and I still remember it like it was yesterday. Occasionally I will still see Dana around town, and secretly(not a secret anymore) I am still filled with envy and irritation. Admitting that almost makes me chuckle, I know it’s time to let it go.
Now I am a mother of four boys, two of which are still school age. My ten year old son we’ve just pulled from public school. Joey is a 5th grader, loves basketball, soccer and playing apps like Clash of Clans and Pixel Guns. He has lots of friends and never gets in trouble at school. Excpet for the time he was drawing on the schoolbus window and the principal called to say, “it’s not appropriate for children to be drawing boys’ body parts while riding the bus home.” Yep, that happened.
A few weeks ago his teacher called concerned about Joey. Asked if I could come in. She described him as being “checked out.” He didn’t want to do testing or all the reading, material he already knew. His teacher even agreed with him saying, “he’s right, we do way too much testing.” The next day I spent half a day observing their class to see what could be done to help him, and what I learned was shocking.
The class is run on a very tight schedule. Every moment in class is accounted for and their was no time for talking or disruption. There was over 30 kids in his class. The pace of the morning made me reach for my Advil. It was stressful and exhausting! It was nothing like what I remember from elementary school. This was his last day.
Soon after I started digging into what Joey was talking about with all the mandatory testing. If they weren’t testing, they were prepping for a test. Not only does this seem to be a huge waste of time, but drains some children of their ability to continually focus on the next test, or even care! Joey had gotten to the point of just circling answers without even reading the question. I couldn’t believe it.
I get that these tests are meant to help. But weighing the pig more often wont make it gain weight! If one test from my childhood made a lasting impression on me, what impact are these tests having on kids today? Preferential seating, small group activities and leaving class for special instruction can also have a negative impact on children as well.
I don’t have all the answers to the public school system’s problems, but I do know I want my son to be curious and excited about learning, least of all being “checked out.”