"Signed into law by George W. Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, No Child Left Behind was a long-awaited shift toward accountability, but despite its admirable intentions and the measurable gains it has produced in the past 10 years, the good no longer outweighs the bad. Teachers and administrators say NCLB sets impossibly high standards and has narrowed curriculums, forcing teachers to teach to the tests, and it has labeled far too many schools as "in need of improvement," creating a race to the bottom as states dumb down their standards to ensure that more of their schools meet NCLB's rigid benchmarks."Any teacher can tell you that the NCLB legislation has had harsh impact on students and within each class. And you might enjoy reading an earlier post, that Children are not Clockwork. Some children begin walking as early as 7 or 8 months, and some begin as late as a year or more, and where a child lies in that window of development means almost nothing relative to the child's long range development. But lay on a grid, and put a child into classes where children are all tested and measured and expected to develop and mature at exactly the same pace, and you will have created an educational nightmare, imposing severe limitations for some children, leading them to assume that they are not and will not be capable in certain areas. Math and reading are examples.
We are now, in American Schools, pushing kindergarten students to read too soon and as a result make reading is a chore to be avoided instead of the pleasure of opening the whole world for each child's enthusiastic examination.
According to the Time magazine article, teachers complain that "NCLB has sucked the creativity out of their lesson plans" forcing them to teach only those things that will be on the state tests. As one eighth grade science teacher explained, "the worst thing is when students have questions and interests and I have to say, 'Put your hands down. We don't have time to talk about that.'"
I am once again reminded of this story about Pestalozzi:
Back in the late 1700’s a child in Pestalozzi’s school challenged his teacher, “You want me to learn the word ladder, but you show me a picture. Wouldn’t it be better to go look at the real ladder in the shed?” The teacher was frustrated by the child’s interruption and explained that he would rather not take the whole class outside the building just to look at a ladder. Later, the same child was shown the picture of a window and again interrupted the teacher. “Wouldn’t it be better to talk about the real window that is right there? We don’t even have to go outside to look at it!” The teacher asked Pestalozzi about the incident and was informed that the child was right. Whenever possible children should learn from the real world and the experiences it offers.Learning is best when it comes first hand.
Make, fix and create...