0137: The Test, Threats, and a Malaise Sandwich #education #testing #SOSchat #bullshit
This morning students were herded into the gym to be “motivated” and reminded of the importance of the test and the impending week of extreme test prep. In faculty meetings there has been talk of being positive and trying to encourage students to do there best. Propaganda, but generally non-threatening. When my students made it back to class I asked them how the meeting went. They were really mopey walking back to class. Frankly, they all seemed a little pissed off, and downtrodden. I smiled sarcastically and asked if they were “motivated” yet. One student spoke up, “Really, it was more to tell us how if we didn’t come to the test we would flunk and be suspended.” Another student chimed in, “Yeah, it was like a threat, or something.”
All this “positive” talk is quite confusing to teachers and students. There is mention of “making sure we’re doing what’s best for the kids”, and “If you’re not here for the kids, please don’t come back”. “Doing what’s best for the kids” equates with doing what’s best to keep one’s job, from top to bottom. And, the ones “not here for the kids” are the ones who are not tactful about refusing to give up their usual subjects to skill and drill these next few weeks. Science teachers want to finish teaching science, social studies want to continue, just as all other non-tested areas want to continue. Are these naysayers just being defiant or have they had enough of not having any control o what happens in class? Many teachers acquiesce out of fear. Others rebel subtly while paying lip service to the system (currently I fall into this category. I’ll live to fight another day and do what I know is best in my classroom). And, then there are those who are just fed up. I neglect to mention the very tiny percentage of those who are here for the wrong reasons or have reached there threshold for giving a shit. Regardless, we’re all in a strange situation. We say one thing, but mean another. Some of us have accepted what is said as full blown truth, if only for the sake of maintaining a semblance of sanity. The students are threatened and then told they are being encouraged. Everyone’s stressed. Fights are breaking out more frequently. Brows are furrowed constantly. Teachers are bickering. Meetings are foreboding. This is what education has become. I don’t like it around this time of year. It’s inhuman.