On the advice of Susan Ohanian, I took a look at this commentary by Stephen Krashen earlier today. He is pointed and convincing, as usual, but I wasn't particularly moved by what he had to say.
And then I read snippets of articles here and there about the President's concerns that too much testing makes kids think school is boring... and so I end up not knowing what to think exactly.
That is, until I read this article, a few hours later, on the advice of my friend Matt Karlsen.
You should read it, but I'll give you a sample here:
So, like you and you and you, I’m a storyteller—and so are your children. I’ve realized that we only get one life, and I’ve decided to own mine completely, to celebrate and mourn and lash out and question and believe and argue and explore and love and dismiss and fight on the page, at the front of a classroom, on the stage. No one, no one is authorized to tell that story but you. And if there is shame in that story, you own that shame and you turn it into lesson. If there is darkness in your story, you write toward the light. If there are words you don’t want anyone else to hear, you hold those words close. On the other hand, if there is joy threaded throughout that story, you sing it loud enough to rock the rafters. If there is triumph, and there will always be, in some measure, you pull everyone within the sound of your voice, within shouting distance of the page, into that circle of light.
A teacher standing at the front of a classroom is a little bit of religion. It doesn’t matter if you are in Portland or Philadelphia or Kentucky or Indianapolis, whether you are overpaid or overlooked, whether your students soar thru their AP classes or stumble through single-syllable words, whether your school is five wings or five stories, it doesn’t matter if the buildings are drab and fallen and surrounded by a dying neighborhood or glittering and expansive enough to brag its own zip code, it doesn’t matter whether your students are colored like snow or sand or soil. For every minute you stand before them, you are the beacon, the whole of possibility, the keeper of the second throat. Like it or not, you are often the first chapter in the story they’re writing with their lives. Their parents taught them to speak. Now you must teach them to speak aloud, to keep on speaking, to scream and to sing. (Patricia Smith, Rethinking Schools, Spring 2011)
All that matters is that teachers help children know they have the right to scream and to sing their own stories into this world. In the end that is all that will have mattered.