Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CA Standards Are Increasing, But Are The Students Actually Learning?

By Dupe Aleru|March 22, 2011|10:37 a.m.

I remember growing up in the early 80's and attending kindergarten with my teacher Mrs. Sara and Mrs. Smith. I looked forward to the days of painting, playing with the blocks, having snack time and nap time. I loved playing with my friends on the playground, playing chase or other "make believe" games normals 5-year-olds play during the years of social development. During class time we would always have a fun activity to accompany a learning point. I also remember all the read alouds of the many books that were in our classroom library. The field trips were something I always looked forward to. They were very educational and fun as our parents were allowed to come along, take pictures and be apart of the memorable experience. The field trip to the pumpkin patch was my favorite. We each got to pick a pumpkin to to carve and later take home.

What happened to those fun days in school? The standards have surely risen, time has changed and education is just not the same today. You surely don't see any "nap time" anymore in kindergarten classrooms. Sure, children receive their lunch breaks and recess time, but the good days with movies, naps and snack time isn't built into the curriculum or daily schedule. You'll be lucky to see "painting and arts and crafts time".

I taught kindergarten for two years and I truly loved it. Myself and many of my colleagues made sure to include the arts and crafts as the schools I worked for were really "high standard schools" who taught to every child's intelligences, so variety was a MUST.  Though I was lucky to include many fun activities, it's still sad to know that in order to do crafts there needed to "be a reason" which MUST be linked to the STANDARDS. Some might think and agree that it makes perfect sense to do so, especially due to every holiday, one can find a perfect educational activity to go with it, but what if you just wanted to do some "plain old painting and fun times"? What is there was no "real reason" behind the activity, other than to just have fun? Well, there just isn't enough time in a given teaching day to have fun when the students have many concepts to learn...too much "teaching to the test" and pushing the students to know things that were once considered to be grades ahead of there capabilities.

Which makes me wonder...are the students even learning? Are the standards above their developmental abilities? Sure for some no, but how about the slower learners etc? Are we demanding too much for our kids? How about homework? What's considered too much? And why are the students in the United States are considered low achieving in math and reading compared to other countries?

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