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A Great Analogy of State Testing (and a little rant)

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posted on Apr, 25 2013 @ 01:43 PM
This is from a fellow teacher Brent Beasley

"Here's a little something I wrote this morning in honor of STAAR testing:

The Pigs and the Scale

The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better.

He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn’t weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough.

The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was. All the while, the pigs weren’t getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker.

So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs. One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating,” the farmer said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast.

But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn’t weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn’t like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren’t being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet, and wait.

After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren’t going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter. But the pigs didn’t believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well."

***My Rant****

I've have been in education for several years now and still don't understand how we can continue to screw things up. The system is very broken, we know it's broken, and yet we continue to push in the same direction. The majority of people making decisions about education have not one day of teaching or education administration experience.

Here are a few other things that boggle my mind:

Why so much science and math?

Why are we still making it mandatory for students to take four years of science and math? Now don't get me wrong a basic understanding of both is very important, but why do we require students to know how to do calculus (something that the vast majority of them will never use) and not about: how to do your taxes, which credit cards are the best, guidance in student loans, how to change a tire, etc... They can tell you what the atomic number of helium is but have no idea what the term "cost of living" means. We have taken out requirements in subjects like Health and Technology but want them to be able to tell us the difference between RNA and DNA. Why not only require 2 years of science and math and make a year of technology and health required? Allow the last 2 years of science and math to be electives for those who are interested. I mean honestly, how many of you have used the things you learned in Chemistry and Alg 2 recently?

The world is tough, but don't expect school to teach that. We are here to coddle and build their self-esteem, because kids can't learn if they don't feel good about themselves. It's not important that the kid can't read, what's important is that he doesn't feel bad about not being able to read. Then the kids go out into the "real world" and think its all lollipops and rainbows. They think there bosses will be like their teachers and will be patient with them and will only encourage them; they wouldn't dream of telling them they're lazy, they're wrong, or they're fired.....

I could go on for pages but I think I'll hang it up off period, is almost over.......Just another frustrating day in education; thanks for letting me blow off a little steam.

edit on 25-4-2013 by stdscf12 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 25 2013 @ 02:06 PM
Preach it!

I'm right there with you. Teaching first grade, and I have to test, assess, re-assess constantly. We spend so much time assessing we have no time to actually TEACH!

I'm sending your pig analogy to everyone I work with. It was awesome.

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