I blame the New York Giants (sorry Eli). If there hadn’t been a story on the front page of USAToday about the upcoming game between the Giants and the 49-ers I never would have picked up the paper. Which means I never would have seen the article on new plans to curb cheating on standardized tests.
Oh, and I blame access to email, which is how I found out about this Huffington Post article which deals with the uproar over 5th graders at one school in Brooklyn who are rewarded for not going to the bathroom and who are only allowed 3 trips a week.
Apparently even the Bahamas is not immune to the long arm of ridiculousness.
Of course, I could have ignored both of these articles and simply written about how we saw dolphins today, or told you the funny onion story, but instead I feel compelled to respond to this ridiculousness.
Once again, as is almost always the case, the powers that be are focusing on the symptoms and not the problem. The wrong questions are being asked. Examples of the right questions? WHY is there a constant stream of requests in a 5th grade classroom for bathroom breaks? or WHY is there so much cheating on standardized tests?
The answer to the first question is not, I’m willing to bet, that all those 5th graders are chugging gallons of water before school and during lunch. Maybe some are, but my guess is that the majority just want a break from the tedium of the classroom; they want to meet friends from other classes at a pre-arranged time, and where is the only place that will happen outside the lunchroom? That’s right, the bathroom.
The answer to the second should be even more obvious. Cheating is rampant on standardized tests because kids and schools are told that unless they ACE it, their lives are over; their school won’t get funding and might close. It’s the end of the world.
Symptoms do not disappear unless the underlying illness is treated. Everything else is just a temporary fix. Kids hate sitting in a classroom all day so they ask for a break. It’s not that hard to figure out. Kids are told they better score well on the exams or they’ll never get into a good college, have a career, have a good life. Again, not a tough one to decipher.
What is the underlying problem? I’ll give you one guess.
Did you say “our compulsory education system”? Points for you if you did.
Until we change the fundamental way in which we approach learning in this country, the symptoms might change, but they will not go away.