"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 28, 2008

Art? Music? Cultures? NCLB?

By Lisa Greenwood at LJ World:
Recently, Charles Goolsby, theatre director at LHS, invited the district 9th grade English classes the opportunity to see a special performance of the current LHS production-in-progress, Romeo and Juliet. What a fantastic opportunity for students to see one of the works of literature they study in class brought to life on stage!

But something was nagging at me...

If this production were not tied directly to the 9th grade English curriculum, would principals and teachers have responded so enthusiastically to the invitation? Or would it be construed as an obstacle to getting students through the required curriculum in order to perform strongly on standardized tests?

I thought back over my years as a student, and then as a teacher. I had a sneaking suspicion that there just weren't as many field trips as there used to be. So I polled my students, who said that field trips had definitely dropped off in junior high from the frequency encountered in elementary school. This is partly due to the large amount of fantastic and enriching programs and opportunities in our community for the elementary students.

But the teachers I spoke to said that they had noticed a definite decrease over the years. "Not enough time -- we are already trying to cram everything in before the kids have to take their tests -- we can barely get through the required district curriculum." This from two math teachers, and I had heard similar comments from English teachers as well.

So my question is...in the struggle to adequately educate our children, and in the struggle to maintain the high standards and increasingly unreasonable goals set by NCLB, where do we make time to teach them about life? About culture? About music and theatre? About arts? About their environment and their community? We can't do those things in isolation in a classroom. They have to get out of the classroom to experience some of these things, but that takes away from precious classroom instruction time.

For some of our students, a trip to LHS to see Romeo and Juliet may be the only chance they ever get to hear Shakespeare's work as it was intended. What else is passing them by while we keep them in the classroom, chained to the mandates of NCLB and standardized testing?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Some of my most vivid memories are from field trips and activities outside the classroom. Trips to museums, historic sites, parks are significant ways to add depth to specific lessons or education in general - should one actually desire more meaning for our children's learning.