I have always thought of myself as someone who demanded, and got, a lot out of kids, but lately I'm really beginning to wonder. It has to do with this thing we are calling "rigor."
Because I'm kind of feeling like there is a fine line between rigor and ridiculous.
And somehow, I think we have crossed it.
I look at the kids I teach. They are seven or eight or thirteen or fourteen. They read-- picture books and chapter books and graphic novels and poetry and social media and text books-- all the time. They seem to be developing as readers.
But then I look at the texts/passages we are asking kids to read on tests. And mostly, they seem ridiculously hard. Two or three or four years above what I would expect kids that age to read and understand. And I question whether this is really developmentally appropriate, really necessary.
And I look at the questions kids are being asked to answer. Minutiae. Teeny, teeny twists in language that separate the correct answer from the closest distractor. And I think of the English Language Learners I teach. And I question whether this is really developmentally appropriate, really necessary.
I watch our third graders, who have only just learned to keyboard. Watch their faces scrunch as they think. Watch their hands stretch as they attempt to type. And I question whether this is really developmentally appropriate, really necessary.
I look at the way some of the test questions are constructed. And I wonder whether they are really measuring kids' reading and writing abilities, or their computer savvy. And whether we can really count one or two or three questions as an accurate measure of a child's mastery of a standard. And I question whether this is really necessary.
I wonder about all of this, but when I open my mouth to ask questions, people look at me like I'm a heretic. Like I don't expect enough out of kids. And I feel like the child who is pointing out that the emperor is wearing new clothes.
So I'm kind of wondering if I might be losing my teaching mind???