Carol Engelmann, in a video interview for the Imagine It! Project, correctly observes our politically-inspired educational culture of high stakes accountability (NCLB) has severely hurt the cause of creative teaching, driven passionate teachers away from the profession, and DISCOURAGED rather than encouraged excitement in many K-12 science classrooms.
Carol Engelmann is an Einstein Fellow for the National Science Foundation. Her criticism of the harmful “narrowing” of our K12 school curriculum to focus almost exclusively on math and reading (to the detriment of the sciences and other content areas) mirrors the REVISED opinions of Diane Ravitch shared in her new book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.”
Fortunately for us in Oklahoma, all scientific, inquiry-based learning has not been sacrificed at the unholy altar of NCLB. Today was our 4th grade science fair.
Of course, statewide testing IS over now. Could our school leaders envision a day when science fairs happen BEFORE mandated testing days? Or a day when we have MULTIPLE science fairs during the course of a year?
As long as NCLB pressures teachers and administrators to “narrow” their curricular focus, that answer is probably NO.
It’s time to change our educational political course in the United States. It’s too bad our current administration seems bent on continuing to perpetuate the failed educational policies of the past.
education, nclb, politics, ravitch, science, einstein, fellow, diane
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Carol really hits the nail on the head here. As a young elementary teacher I SEE every day exactly what she says. It’s all about the state test scores for math and reading. Anything else is just “extra”. I happen to consider myself one of those “creative” and “passionate” teachers who is actually interested in creating these opportunities for “wonder”. I rarely have the time or the support to do that, however, because of administrative pressures to ‘cover’ all the math and reading curriculum and gather data. I am seriously considering other opportunities because that type of education is not inspiring any 21st c. student and it is brutal to be a part of it…despite my love for teaching. Don’t get me wrong, math and reading are very important… but so are many other things. We need to strike a balance and foster a love of learning first and foremost.
I definitely see this happen in my district, especially the magnet schools that I work with. You can always tell when state testing is done because suddenly all classes become project based learning environments. I have tried to work with teachers and explain that project based learning can still teach the standards and provide the “wonder factor” but so much is driven by the types of questions asked on state tests that teachers and administrators are worried that if they don’t teach using that style, student’s won’t be able to perform on the test.
Although it can be discouraging and is sometimes, I continue to look for a way to show teachers how to keep students engaged and ensure that they still are mastering the standards of our state test. I have to find teachers who want to step out and do it differently. My goal is to start with one teacher and once I’ve got them, then they work with one teacher and I work with someone new. It’s a long process, but I can’t seem to find a way to get multiple people to understand and make the change at a single time.