Yesterday, Professional Dawn opened her email and saw something which made her so angry that she sputtered and choked her way into the University where she is a PhD candidate, and then proceeded to sputter and choke about what she had seen in her email inbox to her PhD partner in angst.
What could have caused Professional Dawn this type of reaction?
An invitation to a chat with an "expert" in Kindergarten Testing. An "expert" with no actual degrees or experience TEACHING children. An "expert" who has written a book and is trying to sell it to worried parents afraid their child is going to be left out of some thing that , if only they bought the book, would solve the problems of getting their child into that exclusive preschool, or Kindergarten. This will, of course, lead to your child being prettier and popular and eventually getting into Harvard with a full scholarship.
I call Bull Shit. Do you need me to CAPS that statement?
I CALL BULLSHIT.
Professional Dawn has, of course, TAUGHT kindergarten. Professional Dawn has degrees in Education (Both Early AND Elementary) and Child Development and is in process of her very own PhD in said Educations. Professional Dawn is a Mom too. A Mom with a child with a variety of diagnosed learning issues. Professional Dawn is married to Professional Terrance , a man who did his PhD in Psychometrics. Do you know what that is?
Here, let me give you the Wikipedia fast and dirty definition:
Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments, such as questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments.
OH SNAP! We have a REAL education Expert AND an Expert in EDUCATION TESTING DESIGN in the same house!!! You can see why we may make a fearsome parental duo.
And do you know what we two experts KNOW about the designs of all of these tests?
They don't measure shit. Not your child's intelligence or interests or ability to succeed in life. Not who you will marry or how happy you will be later in life. They are arbitrary tests which give institutions a Number in order to control the supply and demand of any given product, in this case, Education.
Alfie Kohn calls it "a way to separate the wheat from the chaff children", and you know what that is veiled code for right? Rich and Poor. White and Non White. Haves and Have Nots.
These books - these programs to "prep" your child for anything? Lies. They do nothing.
Do you know what does help? Reading to your child. Talking to your child. Taking your child on walks around the neighborhood and discussing what you see. Listening to music with your child. Cooking with your child. Laughing with your child.
I can tell you that the brain isn't fully developed until about age 21 when the pre-frontal cortex comes fully on-line. This is why teens have such crappy decision making skills, they are still growing the part of the brain that is needed to MAKE decisions. I can tell you that until age 7, the true Concept of Reading is not really accessible to most children. Sure, they can repeat words. They might even be able to sound out letters and sounds if you drill them enough....But the mystery of Decoding for information? Comes on-line about the time they move into the Piagetian "Concrete operational" stage.
I can tell you all sorts of things about children and learning and brain development. I can tell you that a healthy diet and protecting uninterrupted sleep is as important for brain development as reading to your child. I can tell you it is the Quality of experiences and not the Quantity of experiences which shapes brains and intelligence.
I can tell you that if Parents were to refuse to allow their children to participate in these tests that the Institutions would eventually stop demanding them - JUST like most schools no longer require GRE scores for Graduate schools. If you have no test scores to arbitrarily assign value to, then how are you going to Know a child as a learner? Maybe watch them? Get to Know them? Talk with them? If you've got no test scores and no parents willing to comply with providing them, then your product (the school) becomes devalued. You are then forced to change your metric of admission.
I can tell you that Anybody can slap "expert" next to their name and talk about things they have no right to be talking about as "experts".
I can tell you that these books, these programs, do nothing but take your money and stress your children out.
As Alfie Kohn says more eloquently:
However, until PARENTS stand up and say "Absolutely Not, there is no basis or reasons for this" OR Schools come out and simply honestly say "We are trying to keep THOSE children out of this school, you know, the poor/black/stupid ones..." this nonsensical hamster wheel of ridiculousness will continue.
And it makes Professional Dawn crazy mad.
I am re-printing this because it still makes me crazy mad. And, sadly, because I now have to talk about how I would teach potential teachers to cope with the outcomes measurements being shoved down their throats, ala Race to the Top. Outcomes measurements which I know, in my heart of hearts, is such bullshit that it makes me sputter and storm and want to throw my degrees in the trash, for all the good it has done.
I can not tell you how disheartened and just Sad it all makes me, these policies. How one of the critiques of me during interviews is my non participation in these things that I find so repugnant ( how to prepare teachers for these situations where they must meet "accountability" measurements)...and it isn't because I don't think teachers should be accountable. I do. But because I know what these tests and measurements will lead to, and it isn't better teaching, or better schools or better anything for the children who need it Most. It is more segregation of those we Choose and those we throw away.
As I read that well intentioned suggestion - that I become more familiar with "Standards" in the schools and address how I would teach undergrads these standards and assessments, I saw all the money and time I have spent on a Master's degree and then a Doctoral degree as wasted.