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Standards Be Damned

May 7, 2014

Common Core, Benchmarks, Standardized Testing…..all of this is freaking me out right now.


I am an educator. I love to teach; I love to learn.

And yet….sometimes in the job I have, I feel like I am watching kids learn to hate learning. Not often because I work for an excellent school that fosters life long learners, but just at this time of the year. The time when all state funded schools have to do standardized testing.

Yesterday, a little girl had a panic attack and started crying because of standardized testing. I hate that. She hated that. I am bummed that is part of my job.

I am on a fringe of the educational spectrum. I was home schooled, I work in a home school charter, and I home school my own kids. I lean more towards un schooling because guess what….kids like to learn. If we stay out of their way, they will naturally explore, question, analyze, and experiment. Teachers work really hard to teach kids to analyze and question and the need for people who can learn this way are in high demand which is why we now have Common Core. The Common Core standards are pretty good because they encourage students to really think about what they are learning, to dissect the information and look at it from all different angles. I like Common Core just fine. These new standards aren’t any worse than the old state standards that we had to follow; they may even be better. I just think standards have very little place in education.

 We are teaching people; not standards. It really doesn’t matter if my child learns to read in Kindergarten or 8th grade as long as the child loves to learn. Does that freak you out? Does the idea of a 13 year old just learning to read make you gasp? What if you took out the idea that a child only has 13 years of formal education from K-12 to learn all they need to be a successful adult? I mean…isn’t that concept ridiculous anyways? If your kid is a straight A student through 12th grade and even through college but then thinks: “Alright…I did it. I graduated from college;  I am done learning. Whoo hooo!” and that was it for his or her education, would this person really be successful in life? Almost as soon as you graduate, your degree is already becoming obsolete. You have to continue learning to keep up with this ever changing world or you will not be successful.

Life long learning is a survival necessity.

So that brings me back to our illiterate 13 year old. Now if this was it for this child’s education and at 13, he or she was going to head out into the world with no more guidance from teachers of all types and no more access to learning tools, than yes, we would be right to freak out, but that isn’t what will happen; not in the world we live in right now. If our little 13 year old had been far more into math and science experiments and art and sports than reading and has put all his or her energy into these passions, wouldn’t that be ok because as he or she continued to grow in his or her passionate pursuits, then he or she would eventually get to the point where reading and writing become a necessity to going further and he or she would be inspired to read and quickly learn? Instead of being forced to do special reading classes that take time away from passionate pursuits and lead a child to resent reading as an obstacle instead of a gateway, the child would be able to pursue his passions until reading naturally becomes one of them.

I get that kids can’t always do what they want and that life is hard sometimes and you have to push through when things get overwhelming, but here’s the deal: people push through when things get tough because of love, not because of standards. I push through when my teaching job gets hard because I love my students. I keep going when parenting gets hard because I love my kids. I keep paddling out in rough surf because I love surfing. I do not always love what I am having to do on the day to day. I don’t love having to do boring reports in my job, or doing laundry and dishes upteen times a day or getting pounded by a scary wave, but I do love inspiring students, having cared for children and eventually catching that wave that the 100 poundings finally gave me the courage to catch. Your kids will learn to do the things that aren’t so much fun in education when they realize that Algebra or writing a research paper will lead then to something that they love.

Love is the answer. Good teachers love learning and teach kids to love learning.

Standards be damned.



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One Comment
  1. The problem with Common Core isn’t it’s curriculum as much as it’s from where it comes. The Federal Government has no business in education. It’s just another attempt at centralized power and one short step from indoctrination as the Feds see fit. What you do Amy, is the antithesis of standards. You have a way of letting the kids you teach that you love them and you get responses accordingly. Although you are restricted to “standards” to some degree, you think outside of the box AND YOUR STUDENTS INCREASE FOR IT. Much MUCH LOVE! Greg

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