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"What do They Know?" (a poem about our schools)

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posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 02:37 PM
This poem was written a few years ago by my Honors World History college teacher. He wrote this after being called into the office by the principal of the high school that he was teaching. He was told that he needed to cut out his special products and stick strictly to the book. He needed to have more tests, pre-tests, and post-tests. There were to be no more discussions, and he wsa to offer no more personal suggestions about the information held in the text book. Perhaps I should also mention that he taught in Virginia where they were taking the SOL (Standard of Learning) tests. This goes along with my "Loss of Original Thought" post...

This is a teacher that loves his job, loves open discussions and challenging his students. We listen to music in his class, like Jethro Tull, Kansas, as well as more modern musical selections that relate to our class. I have never had an educator that brings more out of an individual student that Mr. Smith, but apparently that isn't what teachers are supposed to do according to the education system.

"What do They Know?"

What do they know?
I asked
As I stare across the desk
Do they have the love of learning
That I pursue with zest?
Or is it all just politics
Some kind of silly game
Where people's lives are numbers
And everyone's the same
Is this where we all are headed?
To a place of tests and forms
Where a persons worth is measured
In percentage points and norms
Oh God I scream!
This can't be so!
Has teaching come to this?
The beauty of the classroom lost
in administrative mist.
A teacher has the courage
To challenge and create
To ask the best of questions
To change a students fate.
What do they know?
I asked again
"Not much" came my faint reply,
But a teacher can see a broken win
and TEACH that bird to fly!

-Randall W. Smith

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