Although teaching should be about content, the sharing of cultural literacy, and preparation for adulthood, it has become a task of measurement. It is no longer about teaching a man to fish. It’s about extracting data about the possibilities of his future fish. It is about measuring student knowledge through one paper-pencil test and judging the student, the entire univerity and the current teachers based on that test.
Who hasn’t had a bad day fishing? There are days when everything seems right. There’s the weather, the lures, the bait, and you still have an empty bucket. There are other days when surprise brims the bucket with great fish. What if your entire fishing future was based on that one bad day, not the other great days? What if the test takers had a bad day? What if the achievement gap is something that cannot be turned around in one year? Should a teacher’s pay be connected to that test? How about the entire University?
As a teacher, I wonder if my one hour a day is enough to turn the life of a student around. Some students are completely prepared, some struggle, some have learning disabilities that require intensive instructional techniques. Other times the students who need the most help are truants. When the student is a truant, or is suffering from depression, or is returning to school after a major illness, they certainly need time to fish, but their own personal crisis is too great to allow for focus. They need help, not assessment.
Our system makes fish of one and flesh of another.