A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.

Huston, We Have a Problem

Though, as I learned this summer at my NASA teacher training camp, Huston doesn’t really have problems. They have anomalies. Your rocket blows up? Just an anomaly. No big deal. Well, Huston, we have an anomaly. There seems to be a huge disconnect between teachers in the classroom who are willing to take risks and try something new to help their students become life-long learners and the policies in place that are supposed to help students become life-long learners.


Something has definitely gone wrong somewhere when we’re crashing and burning.

When I think about life-long learners, I think about people who are passionate about things. Anything at all. They have a passion and they go out into the world and they follow it and learn about it and they get so excited about learning about things that sometimes they can’t contain it and they jump up and down and their voice gets louder and you can see it in their eyes. You can see the spark. That light that says the world is a very interesting place and I have the tools I need to explore it.


So very, very true.

When I think of classrooms, I think of worksheet packets and hating, absolutely loathing the slow readers when we popcorn read. I think of books that are out of reach for at least 95% of the class when they’re assigned. I think of taking lots and lots of notes and writing canned assignments. Five paragraph essay. Yep. High stakes testing. Yep. Everyone bored out of their minds until the whole system seems to atrophy and rot in awful testing hell.


Almost every high school class I ever took. And some college ones.

Teachers are wanting a change. All teachers seem to want a change. The science teachers I’ve talked to want change. The English professors want change. The national organizations for these groups want change. Yet, we have new standards. Standards that, implemented as high stakes testing, can kill learning. It’s not about what Jane wants to read anymore. It’s not about what Richard wants to experiment on. It’s about the numbers. Students have become little bits of data and it’s not working. These students are not prepared for college or to embrace learning outside of school. School becomes this dirty six letter word and more frightening than any four letter word to some.


These hallowed halls of learning are some kids’ worst nightmares.

I’m taking an educational psychology class right now and it makes me not want to be a teacher. This professor is a murder of the love of learning. We had been given the assignment to research all the writing standards K-12 under the Common Core and under Nebraska’s Department of Education. We then had to create a chart that matched the two together. It didn’t matter that most of this class is physical education or that the other half wants to teach history. We were looking up writing standards. We were making them match with other standards. We then had to talk about three good points of the common core standards after watching the happy little video about them. This is wrong. This makes me want to throw the towel in and go off to be a geophysicist. Education is not a one size fits all system. It never has been, it never will be. Why are we teaching our teachers that it is? That teaching to the standards is the only way to teach? It’s not. Lots of data says it’s not. Yet, when we do try to be different, to teach outside the testing and standardized box, we are criticized as being different and weird and probably ineffective.


This is going to be my response to people who question my motives. This, and a whole bunch of research.

Well, Huston, I want to find a way that we can stop scaring our teachers from teaching and that we can stop scaring our students from learning. I want to find a system that cares about learning and not a five paragraph essay. I want a program that realizes the student is an individual and can still move everyone forward. How long until this happens?


 I’m not taking “in a little while” for an answer anymore.

One comment on “Huston, We Have a Problem

  1. Elisabeth Ellington
    September 10, 2013

    My goal for us over the next few weeks is to see that all of these goals are not as mutually exclusive as we might think. Learning standards aren’t in and of themselves a bad thing. Check out the NCTE/IRA standards: standards created by professionals in the field representing what we English educators believe about literacy. Standardization, on the other hand, IS a bad thing, I would argue. And the Common Core State Standards, no matter what you think about the standards themselves, exemplify what is wrong with so much education reform: top-down, corporate-driven, profit-driven, often thought up and directed by people with no teaching experience whatsoever. The thing is, there is absolutely nothing in those standards to suggest that high-stakes, multiple-choice assessments are the appropriate end result of learning.

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