Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Not Enough Time for Thinking

As Maggie and I were working on Building Thinking Skills today, we came across a problem with an unusual-for-the-book answer. We checked again and again, and I know that we're right (in spite of not having an answer key). I was curious, though, as to what the book thought the answer ought to be. In hunting for an answer key online, I discovered this sentence:

How can you afford to spend time focusing on teaching students to think critically when you have so much content to cover?

ARGH! [Okay. Breathing deeply now.] Granted, the publishers of the book answered the question. But I am still stunned that the question could even be asked. And yet, aren't "But we don't have time for that in the curriculum" and "But that won't increase the students' scores on their standardized tests" typical for teachers and school board members when considering changes to the curriculum?


  1. Nathan Fischer10/08/2009 4:22 PM

    I don't know if this has anything to do with your post or not, but I thought I'd mention it anyway, because your post reminded me of it.

    I've spent a good deal of time talking to people at work, most of whom are either seniors in high school or else just 1-2 years out of high school. All of them are public schooled, though a few have moved here from different areas of the country.

    Every last one of them, though, have complained incessantly about how mind numbingly boring school is, and that all the teachers care about is how well you do on the end-of-year test (the one that determines how much money the school will make).

    This has become an increasing problem in Texas, though, as Texas now requires students to pass a single, general test (sounds kind of like an SAT or ACT, actually) in order to graduate. But (if my fellow employees are to be believed), the teachers aren't actually teaching them the actual subjects, and everyone is having a TERRIBLE time passing this general test! They all do great on the one the schools care about, but most of my fellow workers have had to spend 6 months to a year after high school teaching themselves what they need to learn in order to pass the graduating test.

    One guy was 21 before he passed the math section and finally received his diploma. He had a terrible time with math, and once he was out of high school, he couldn't get the teachers to help him anymore. So he spent 3 years after high school trying to teach himself algebra and geometry so that he could pass the test.

    Strangely, despite the incessant complaining, all of my co-workers are also adamantly opposed to anything other than a public education. I couldn't quite understand that...

  2. Nathan Fischer10/08/2009 4:25 PM

    PS: To be fair, I'm sure that there are teachers out there who do care about the kids and do actually want them to learn the subject that they're teaching. In fact, I'm sure there are some at the local high school. The mere fact that the students only see that the teachers care about the standardized tests, though, I think is telling...