I have often been accused of over-simplifying things or making things more black and white than they should be. When it comes to the increasing number of standards being imposed on our students, I am beginning to feel rather frustrated. As a country we are concerned that our students are falling behind in the sacred tests to other countries. Yet, as I sit in my desk helping students do math during study hall, I have a tough time believing that. These 6th grade students are tackling concepts that I am confident I was not introduced to until late junior high or early high school. More and more content is being pushed down in an effort to help kids get ahead. So what gives? Why are the test scores not going up if kids are getting “smarter” earlier?
For me, I wonder if it is simply a matter of breadth over depth. We are exposing our students to as much content and curricula as inhumanly possible in the time we have them. Yet, due to the sheer amounts of standards and content, teachers cannot hope to go into any true depth. How can teachers deepen understanding when they are given such a laundry list of standards to teach in one school year? Students are certainly being exposed to more content today than in the past, but at the expense of what? True understanding and depth of knowledge?
The other day I spent some time playing and learning with my son in his preschool classroom. In one of the classrooms the teacher had hung the multitude of learning standards each child was expected to master by the end of the year. It struck me funny as a parent to think my child would be exposed to all that content in one academic year. Honestly, I was blown away by how many there were. As I looked them over, one caught my eye.
This standard truly does sum up my beliefs on learning. How would your teaching change if you put this standard in your list? What if this was the only standard that drove your teaching? In my opinion we move too far away from “active exploration” in lieu of rigid curriculum coverage. Is it possible that this is the only standard we ever need?