There’s an old saying, “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”
It’s the end of the school year and everyone is scrambling to get everything done. It’s as if some magic has taken hold of everyone and there is oddly, no time, whereas just a few days ago; I thought I had weeks to get everything done. I’m presently, in the mode of: I should have gotten it done days ago and in some cases weeks ago.
There is a barrage of end of the year paperwork that must get done, or else…
It didn’t used to be this way. When did it change? How did it change… to all of this? Did our elected officials get their hands on this too?
College students have to petition to graduate. Where have the days gone of sitting with a counselor and reviewing one’s coursework? I remember being handed a paper with a list of requirements and then after 3-4 years returning to the registrars’ office saying, ‘I have fulfilled the requirements, please verify my attendance and grades’. Am I so naïve to believe that my elementary teachers, while waving goodbye on our last day of school with one had, were waving the other like chickens with their heads cut off. We they wondering, worrying and wringing their hands about the analytical credibility of their data from the standardized test; worrying if they would be terminated or not because of the interpretation of that data, as soon as the doors were closed.
Does all of the writing and all the paperwork and all the meetings make for a better teacher? Do students turn out to be more productive as a result of having teachers who worked tirelessly on yet one more piece of data.
Don’t get me wrong. Record analysis is important. It’s beneficial to study intervention criteria and test results, and various positive behavior modifications programs and MORE! However, does mountains of documentation really make for a better student? When is there some consideration for reason, as well as focus upon the goal; the product - the student, the child?
I really do enjoy my calling as a teacher. This “thing” that I do Monday- Friday, (and Saturdays, too many times), from 6am to about 5pm; is something that I get to do. However, I fear that we as a nation, are moving in the wrong direction of what is in the best interest of the student. In the future, I wonder if students will merely be given computer tablets at the beginning of the year and sent home to address the screen teachers of the future. All books will be download-able “pages” as well as tests, reports, and “homework”, as it were – all files, easily sent by a push of the return key.
We are coming to an end of an era, in more ways than one. We are graduating yet another class. Students are about to embark upon the “Brave New World”. When will any class following this year’s; be the last to function as an entity? Will education as we know it, cease to exist as an institution? Or with all the writing and analysis show what our politicians have wanted all along – an end product that is mass produced with low overhead expense, because they would have finally been able to show that they can do the job – without the fallible teachers? (Job and calling are two different things).
This paper reads with a touch sarcasm however, truly unintended - truly. It is the end of the school year, (and I am tired). There is much on my plate that I have yet to complete. Some of the work is surely a pleasure and honor to do. Some, I admit is a chore, because it’s purpose is to validate my profession and/or my being employed as a professional. My worth is not found in the beautiful art products of my students, or their knowledge of the emotional qualities of their works and the likes of the masters that they were inspired by; but in the scientific breakdown of the analysis of the spectrum of color that they used; and the measure of weight produced by each student when pressing their pencils upon the paper and the width of the line produced with every stroke of the brush; and much more seemingly unnecessary measures and numbers and analysis…
Alice, (from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”), entered a Brave New World and found a looking glass … I wonder what my students will find in their New Worlds’. Long after they’re gone I’ll still have paper work, (totally unrelated to what I do as an art teacher). Still, this used to be called job security, but that was another world. :-)
Art work by John Tenniel