Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept

or reflections on Wiggins and McTighe…

This article was very interesting to me because it seems to showcase the disconnect between what American high-schools SHOULD be teaching (and therefore what students should be learning) and what American high-schools ARE teaching.  The debate over what tests students should or should not take and in what format will go on, but in the meantime, there are articles such as this one that explain and prove how we are leading students astray to do well on the tests.

I know from my own schooling experience that there are many things I learned for the test (or for the purpose of it might be on the test someday) and those are the same things that I have zero transferability or meaning making for.  For me, these concepts were often in the math or sciences field but it does not really matter.  The point is that I was not taught with the 3 strategies (acquiring information, making meaning from the information, transfering the learning) in mind.

I’m curious how feasible it is in todays current schooling climate.  As much as I would like to say the teacher should teach keeping the mission and primary goals of attending and completely high-school in mind, the reality is that it is simply not happening due to whatever other constraints out there.  When my job as a teacher is tied to the performance of my students (all students, even the ones with disabilities – learning or otherwise – that are not able to perform on tests, even the ones who are not schooled in how to culturally take a test) on a multiple-choice standardized test with some essay writing, I’m not sure I would be able to convince myself to spend the time teaching in this way.  I would love to say that I would, that I would be that teacher that went against the grain, I am just not sure I actually would.

It’s not easy to say just don’t worry about the tests anymore and I would be really curious to meet and discuss with current teachers who DO teach in the way this article describes all the time, while having high performing standardized test scores and finding a good balance.  My suspicion is that the places that are successful in doing all of the above (teaching to the core mission of high-schools and with transferability) are teaching in affluent communities where the social and cultural implications of doing well in school and on tests is imbedded in the home life (which is often rainbows and unicorns compared to other much more difficult communities) and not so much a reflection on the teacher but the entire community in which the students grow up with.  I would love to be proven wrong, but even more importantly, I would love to be proven wrong WITH a plan to help every community use these best teaching practices and have high-performing students.

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One response to “Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept

  1. I’m similarly unsure that I would be an awesome teacher even after reading all these things about how to be an effective teacher – there are SO MANY complicating factors in how a student will perform in the classroom and a whole host of other things the teacher has to attend to besides getting the kids to learn that I don’t know how it could be possible to teach effectively 100% of the time.

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