Educated to Death

An educator's attempt at keeping sanity in a system that pushes children through an assembly line in little boxes.

Category: testing

0148: In their element #education #occupyedu #SOSchat #testing


Originally Posted Friday, 13 April

Today I saw students with their eyes as bright as they can only be when the souls they house are doing exactly what they’ve been prepared to do. They were perky, focused, and engaged. They were in their element. But, should testing really be their element?

0147: The intoxicating power of the Test #satire #SOSchat #education #Race2Equity #edreform


Today, I’m drunk with power. I am a test administrator, I mean a Test Administrator (proper nouns are better for powerful people). I am the tip of a finger on the hand of an arm of the State that swears on Holy things that it is just. I command students to focus on their tests, not to talk, not to sleep, to fill in bubbles and prove their worth or I am not worthy as a teacher, and the State will sever me from its hand and I will then have to beg the hand from which I was severed for food, money, an dignity. I am drunk with power and filled with despair. I am powerful but weak. I know that I am doing good while doing harm. I work for the greater good of the children. I am a master of doublethink, doublespeak, and self-preservation. I know what I believe. I believe what I am told. I injure humanity while doing “good”. If I allow even a drop of the above thought into my mind I will become an enemy of the body of which I am a part. I will no longer function properly. I will become infected and hopefully fall off. But, again, I am gifted with a masterful doublethink— an outright genius. Fitzgerald said in The Crackup that, “the mark of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in the mind at the same time without cracking up”— something to that effect. I’ve not cracked yet. I’m still harming for the good and doing good for the harm. I am a
Test Administrator. I honor the Test. I will not speak ill of the Test. I will honor security measures and will never throw the Test in the dump on the way from point A to B. I will keep students focused and remind them they are not human, but numeric. I will love the proficient and remediate the minimal. I will feed my family and remain a tip on the finger of the hand of the most just arm that keeps me as a liar, criminal, and at war with myself. God bless the Test.

0141: A Critique of #Classroom Management #education #SOSchat #occupyedu #discipline


I will not attempt bore you with a classical critique of classroom management as if it were some brilliantly constructed concept, nor will I try to awaken you to any revolutionary idea— though I can only rejoice if you awaken even more than you already are. I will, however, discuss the concept and language of “classroom management” as we have come to know it. The heavy focus is a symptom of our terribly mis-focused educational system. Rather than providing learners with interesting and stimulating activities through which they cal learn, we are being forced to coercively deposit information that has no purpose beyond a test. Naturally, our unstimulated and bored, but curious students rebel and resist the forced “education”. From this rebellion is born a new focus on keeping kids in line, quiet, and automatic. With recess, break, and talking at lunch gone, the students need an outlet—the classroom. To combat this we can implement a subtly churched-up form of brainwashing called classroom management. I will focus on two points for this discussion. First, forms of classroom management goes beyond discipline by seeking to alter or suppress certain cognitions and behaviors that result from certain thoughts. And second, the term ‘classroom management’ has no standard definition and can be used to demonize a teacher with language alone.

Classroom management is an updated version of classroom discipline. It’s classroom discipline 2.0 with an expansion packet. Where discipline punished “bad” behavior, and even overt attempts to rebel, classroom management attempts to eliminate the possibility for said “bad” behavior. Theoretically rebellion is not possible with classroom management, because it squashes the thought before it can enter the child’s head. I do not intend to say an orderly classroom is not a good thing. It allows for learning to take place and things run better; but, there’s a fine line between orderly and completely automatic. Many elements of classroom management resemble classical conditioning. If we want critically thinking people, IF we want them, conditioning them to thoughtlessly respond to stimuli only counters and complicates our goal. As teachers, we must be careful to distinguish conditioning from better practices, such as constant, high quality discourse, that encourage critical thought.

Second, classroom management has no real definition— at least, not in standard terms for practitioners. When a teacher doesn’t deliver the perfect product, administration takes a look at “classroom management”. At interviews potential candidates are asked about “classroom management”. People provide answers that include keeping students on task, engaged, and focused on the task. All good things, but the how can be a different story. Classroom management can mean myriad things. One principal may look for a quiet classroom; another may expect minimal discipline referrals. Seldom is there a clear expectation. The answers teachers are taught to provide in interviews are rarely the real desired outcome or what is supported; however, they are the unmet expectations used to put teachers on improvement plans, and put dismissal procedures into action. The point is, there is no standard definition. Classroom management can have different styles, but if someone is to be disciplined according to their “poor classroom management” ability, they should know how and why they are being put on the chopping block. This is not to say that there aren’t principals who provide a wonderfully clear definition and expectation for classroom management. These principal’s support teachers to maintain a healthy classroom that fosters learning.

*It seems the more harmful versions of “classroom management” are more present in high poverty schools. However, there are ample exceptions either way. The schools that serve the lower SES populations are often in “trouble” because of testing, and are subject to more punitive top-down measures. This makes the climate perfect for harsh classroom management practices.*

Classroom management as an idea is not such a bad thing. Some of the practices aren’t too bad either. It just takes a critical eye when it comes to implementation. Our learning environment, that of test, test, test, lays the foundation for our hollow practices. “Get it done or your job is gone,” makes taking a stand difficult. It pressures us to do some things that we wouldn’t otherwise do. But, this isn’t acceptable. We have to stand against anything that interrupts real learning. We’ve all ventured down dark educational paths from time to time. We just can’t continue that way. Keep harmful classroom management practices away. Fight the Testocracy.

0138: #Testing and the Pity of a Dehumanizing System #education #edreform #SOSchat


I am not pro-testing. I view education as a humanist activity. You know, supporting our fellow human being. Mass Testing does nothing to support our fellow human being. Testing is forcefully imposed upon us. It tears us apart, and transforms teaching and learning into terror, stress, and mind-numbing test prep. Mass testing has changed the face of education. It was not perfect before, nor will it ever be, but we should strive for something more than the mass dehumanization of everything the Education System touches. Who knew we were a part of Midas’ touch, only gold is too expensive so everything just turns to shit.

I’d just like to see light in the eyes of students and educators again.

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.

0057: What if schools worked to strengthen communities instead of test scores? #occupyedu #SOSchat #p2 #revolution

Originally posted December 2011

Perhaps teachers and school leaders should work to help communities strengthen themselves and organize against oppression. Teachers could teach problem solving and work with students and community members to develop a curriculum aka an action plan to address specific problems within the community. Sure literacy. Sure math. But mainly relevant problem solving. Economic development. Crime prevention. Adult education. Early childhood. All in between. What if schools were designed for enabling community transformation. What if we spent time on rebuilding communities instead of worrying with national standards. What if standardization was concerned with a high quality of life for everyone instead of a number?

0130: Testocracy: Beauty is Test; Test is Beauty #testing #SOSchat #satire #occupyedu

When referring to the Test it is important to make it a proper noun. The first ‘T’ in Test shall always be capitalized as we reside, teach, and learn in a Standardized Testocracy. Failing to use the name of the Test properly shall result in “swift and just discipline”. The Test is all knowing. The Test is all giving. The Test is just and true. Test is beauty; beauty is Test. Test with a capital ‘T’. Great is thy Testiness, Test Unto Me. These are the hymns of our fathers, the custodians of this great Testocracy. Test Save the Test. We teach the Test for the sake of the Test. We must be thankful for the Test, for it provides us with our station in life. It is giver of remediation, and dictator of pace. The Test embodies time and space. It tames our evil minds. Thank you Test for all you’ve provided. Thank you Test for pacing guides. Thank you Test, for I had no clue what to teach before You.

Wake up an drink the Koolaid, or be Remediated.

0127: Can We Build a Grassroots Movement with enough Power to Really Change #Education? #edreform #SOSchat #occupyedu

Something drastic needs to be done to alter the course of public education. It has become a testocracy. Curriculums have been molded to dictate that instruction revolves around test prep, rather than best practices in education. The culture of education, teaching, and learning have changed drastically as a result of the testing industry. Regardless of the industries intentions, money is being wasted on testing. Millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars have been and are being poured into this industry and related products and services. Many are being crushed under the weight. Ultimately, a generation has received an inappropriate and lacking education. How can we fix this?

I’d like to propose a grassroots movement and organization designed to educate and empower teachers, administrators, and the public about the disastrous effects of the propagation of this education debacle. Perhaps the organization could be called the Center for Teacher Empowerment, or maybe the National Organization for Teacher Empowerment (NOTE). The group/movement will work to empower education professionals to create and implement change in classrooms, schools, districts and in state and national politics. The goal will be to empower educator-activists and support them as they enable education communities to create sustainable change from within. Simultaneously, the group/movement will need to acquire and develop a powerful political voice that can influence and dictate policy change. Additionally, attention needs to be granted to changing public opinion about educators and education. The public needs to be educated. Propaganda needs to be countered.

A summary:

National Organization for Teacher Empowerment (NOTE)


1. Empower and educate education-activists to implement and organize sustainable change within their immediate area (classroom, building, district).

2. Build a diverse and powerful grassroots network of educators, parents, communities dedicated to proper educational change.

3. Develop an influential political voice on local, state, and national level.

4. Correct public opinion of educators. Counter negative, show positive, and progressive.

5. Build support

It is important that we talk about making reflective and powerful change. Inaction and silence are not an option. We must carefully build support and take great care not to alienate supporters. I’d like this to be an open conversation. Is something of this magnitude doable? Help me define some goals, tactics, and options. Let’s look at what exists. Let’s join forces. Let’s continue working.

0126: Why External Motivators are a Must, and why that’s a problem. #education #edreform #SOSchat #control

(Please, if what you find below is a waste of time, skip to the *; don’t waste your time on a fool’s attempt to make sense of the senseless. Cheers.)

I want to begin by stating that I am a proponent of a critical internal locus of control for human beings— that would, of course, include students. It’s important to use ‘critical’ as a qualifier, as well, because so much of what we think is internalized has been conditioned and now seems internal. Additionally, ample argument can be made that every action is made externally. By that I mean we are constantly responding to stimuli no matter how we intellectualize it. I will not try to tease out these complications, frankly that would be a trite go at rhetorical masturbation for which I do not have the time.

That said, external motivators are a must for our current educational model of skill, drill, and test to be effective. Students, and teachers, for that matter are not working on anything truly stimulating provided by the state. The curriculum is cold and pointless, schools function more as prisons than places of curious exploration, any attempts to find glimmers of hope are subdued quickly by the pacing guide, the examples are endless. External control is required when forcing someone to be a something. Education, as it is (arguably education in general), seeks to alter the natural flow of curiosity. It seeks to apply discipline to the mind, and discipline is important. Change, growth, transformation all require a level of discipline, a great deal of it, in fact. Intellectual growth, the building of skills, thinking, and so forth all require discipline. But, discipline in itself is not the problem. The problem is, at least, two-fold. First, in our system of institutional function, the discipline, the locus of control, is not returned to the individual without rendering it less that operative. Second, the current system requires a form of external control that will prevent resistance— the content is so numbing, and the structure so dehumanizing that any soul will and rightfully resist. As a result, external motivators are a must in schools, then people can wander aimlessly through the remainder of their existence from institution to institution seeking refuge from any lack of structure. This is not a phenomenon caused entirely by education, but is simply a part of the function of western society. But, back to school. Testing especially has required motivation to be more and more external and punitive. If it isn’t then quotas won’t be made, curriculum won’t be covered (understanding is not a consideration), and testing will not boom. The industry would crumble of we had kindergartens crawling around playing with blocks, and 8th grade biology classes spending several weeks dissecting frogs. The test must happen. That is the aim. All of life is a test— a standardized test. With all this testing, the control can never be returned to the individual. What would they do? Would they rebel? Not if you’ve destroyed the will too. So while the gradual release of responsibility is present in word, if the responsibility was never developed and nurtured, then it may never appear without intensive democratic intervention that seeks to liberate the colonialized mind and being.

*I quite possibly got lost in the circles of rhetoric above, the problems of our education systems and society are multifactorial and interrelated. So, in summation, without extreme external control our education system, with its current goals, would not function. Tests would never be bubbled, remediation and remediation specialists would have no place, reformers would have to do something else, the industry would change. The means is an end in itself. Control people from as early as possible, and they will belong to their controllers forever. Hopefully, they will never even noticed they’re being controlled. I mean what would the world be like if people went around asking questions and making choices? Reasonable, perhaps?

0125: Dear #Students, Take Back Your #Education #SOSchat @DianeRavitch #occupyedu #revolution

What will it take for learners to take matters of testing into their own hands? Can it be done? Students subconsciously resist abusive testing practices through ‘means’ that have created the classroom management focus we have today. Resistance, conscious or subconscious, is not an option. The human spirit requires rebellion to counter oppression— always. But, what will it take to move this rebellion to the front of the mind? What will be the catalyst for a truly organized kids liberation? Voices from teachers and parents ring loudly against the constant onslaught of corporate reforms and ridiculous education practices. We talk and talk. We continue to teach, when and how we can. Students continue to struggle. The learners are beneath the heel of this entire debacle.

What would happen if, come test day, students didn’t show up at all? What if they all showed up with, say, a stomach bug and soiled all the testing materials with vomit? What if they broke their no. 2 pencils and walked out? What if learners all stood up and demanded to be taught? What if they halted all education until it became their education?

Children are being treated as pawns in this education nightmare. No one should be a victim of his/her education. No one.

Until some mass resistance by students PK-12 begins to end this crisis, there will be minimal change, a lot of rhetoric, and wasted education. We will stand beside you as you continue resisting in your souls and actions. But, we are adults, we grow more and more powerless, we divide into camps and fear for our jobs. We do not have the answer here. The time has come for the children’s liberation once again. Perhaps there is a Mother Jones among you, us, or they? Learners unite, and demand your education. It’s time to flip this pyramid on its point.

Please pass this along. Give it to students, teachers, parents. Education can no longer be denied and deformed.