I hate commercials

Easy targets. Trite complaints. Broken records. They are powerful because they resonate. I now have your attention and your (at least) leaning towards being on my side.

Step right up! You need, I have!

You may have heard salesmen use the Feel, Felt, Found method of developing affinity with current/future clients. They understand how you feel and they have felt that way too. But you know what? They have found the cure for everything that ails you!

As a teacher, I feel the same pressures that you feel. I have felt the sting of pointed words and critiques because my students do not perform the way that non-educators think that they should. “If you are such a great teacher” they say, “why aren’t your test scores higher???” I have found that the answer to this is to do away with standardized testing.

You see what I did there? I created a scenario that resonates. It is a common experience that we have had or one that has been explained to us. The frustration. The insult. The pain. We are professionals, are we not? We do not need this kind of treatment. They do not know what we do every day.

In Waiting for Godot, the character Estragon suffers from terrible pain and is constantly futzing with his shoes. Frustrated, Vladimir comments,

There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.

I use the example of standardized testing because it is one to which many of us can relate. Test results are misused. Surprise. Does that mean that assessment of this type should be tossed out completely? Please. Teachers misuse test results every day. Good teachers. Maybe even you.

There are more items on the docket for the snake-oil salesman. They make grandiose statements that seem to have credibility. That credibility is strengthened when they make statements and use terminology that gets your Irish up. Grades. Detention. Rewards. Punishment. Bells. Classes. Uniforms. Tests. Paper. Technology. Who ever said that we need school anyway?! It is just a conspiracy to prepare us to be mindless cattle for corporate America!!



This week I joked with a friend on Twitter and told him that he was a crackpot. His response was one of gratitude because “after all it’s usually “crackpots” that change the world.” Seem innocent enough. If you say that enough, you will believe it.

I rail against those who abuse nomenclature and also fight the colloquial research that we pass on over and again. Myths that we propagate. Do not fall for it, folks. Simply ask questions and expect answers. We need to stop taking peoples’ word for it and get back to real experience and real research that suggests best practices.

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  • Would love to hear your answer to your final query: what are the “real experience and real research that [suggest] best practices”? For me, it’s Adele Diamond and her developmental cognitive psychology, which suggest that progressive educators were right along–play (structured to develop executive function), the arts, and sports should be the focus of curriculum. This has been established through impeccable research for pre-school age children, but has not been researched through this kind of lens for upper elementary and secondary students.

    But I know from experience that it works. Rather than rail against standardized testing, I advocate for arts-driven curriculum and formative assessment in which students participate.

    Fred Mindlin
    Associate Director for Technology Integration
    Central California Writing Project
    “Politics deals in goals and initiatives; art, or at least interesting art, is a language of doubt and nuance.” Holland Cotter, NYTimes, 3-30-08

  • Clever post- totally agree. Fervor is easy to rile until it becomes groupthink (largely based on the “latest and greatest” according to the proverbial snake-oil salesman.)

    Standardized tests are the perfect example of a villified and grossly misunderstood educational practise. I’m dumbfounded at the volume of teachers who jump on these bandwagons.

    Real experience and real research… here, here.

  • […] off of criticizing education. Sheisters, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells who parade around in teachers’ clothes claiming that they have the insights and solutions that are needed. Gary Stager’s comment […]

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