a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Friday, March 13, 2015


March 2, 2011
The Enemy of Creativity
“Extended response is the enemy of creative writing,” quipped a student of mine the other day. 
Sadly he spoke the truth.

We are into day two of standardized testing, and I can’t wait until it’s over.  I must admit, though, that the monotonous standardized testing proctor script awakens the rebel in me.  While I completely understand why teachers bemoan the students who declare their plan is to simply “bubble in a pattern” on the answer document, there is still a part of me that admires those students.  It is the part of me that makes me wonder what stopped me from being that student?  What stops me from the being the teacher who urges students to be absent during the two week testing window, like Alfie Kohn taught me to be?  What stops me from distributing colored pencils to my students so that at least those bubbles will be brought to life (even if they are all marked wrong by the state because they are not darkened using “No. 2” graphite)?  What stops me from challenging my students to eat a marshmallow between every question on the test? 

I would like to think that it is not fear that stops me—fear of being declared a highly UNqualified or ineffective teacher, fear of being questioned, fear of being fired.  I would like to think that instead, what stops me is my respect for the system—my respect for the public education system that served me well and that I signed up to be part of even after I was legally required to be.  You see, even though I don’t agree with the way the test results are used, I have a respect for the meaning those test results hold for my students, and the impact they will have on each student’s educational experience. 

Even the rebel in me respects the system because it is the system that serves (or fails to serve) my students.

1 comment:

  1. I agree on having checks and balances but after this year, the PARCC is ridiculous. Especially the math...kids could even decipher what the question was asking.