Over the past two months I have sat in meetings and in-services discussing testing and assessments. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for showing growth and documenting how students are learning within individual classes by making students and teachers accountable. I demand rigor of myself and my students. My concerns is the demand that one shoe fits all.
I have listened quietly, then asked the question, “How will the specials (music, art, and PE) be assessed? Then there is a stare and “Yes, all students will be evaluated the same way, through testing and assessments.” They were not talking about performance evaluations, but paper/pencil tests.
Assessing the arts through testing? The funny thing is we ALREADY have performance evaluation in specials. Students perform music, create artwork, and physically perform in PE. But, now we are in the world of ONE shoe fits all. Test every subject. I see this as another way to limit the specials, because there is the a push to teach more academics. The specials are under attack across many districts, with the specials being cut.
So, I have a radical idea! Let’s do it! Let’s cut the specials completely out of the schools, eliminate the music, art, and PE classes. School will only be for learning the five subjects: Math, Reading/Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language. The “breaks” the teachers have will be for study hall, so students can study more on the five subjects. Additionally, art and music won’t be used in any of the subjects. No multi-media projects. No music in the hallways, for we need the students to learn the five subjects.
It also means no art in any stories; students will only be allowed to write their stories and compositions. No acting out any stories, again, let the students write more. There will be no music performances and no teams. No band, orchestra, or chorus and no musical theater. Get rid of all sports. Students need to study those five subjects, so after school would be for studying, not playing on a team or rehearsing for a concert.
There will be no art work in the hallways, paint all the walls white. This is let the student focus more on learning. Didn’t you hear we have a serious problem in our schools today, students aren’t learning as much as they used to, so we need to teach more.
As adults, we need to model this behavior and eliminate art, music, and PE from our daily living. The adult population needs to study and no more attendance at music concerts, art museums, and no working out. Let’s get rid of all professional sports. We need to model learning, so all adults need read, write, and study math.
The funny thing about this is that some people think I am serious and really see that this might work, so we can educate our children today. The specials are the ONE place where testing and evaluating performance is part of the subject. The arts and sports are all about rigor and demanding excellence. We need more arts-related subjects in the schools with the students creating and developing their artistic voice. It is the place where every student can soar. It is also the place where innovation and creativity are heralded and allowed to grow freely.
The specials are special. By placing limits and making them the same as the academics cheapens them and stunts growth. We should be allowed to create our own assessments. Yes, we need a literate society, but not having an artistic and physically fit society is much worse.
Look for my next post, “How to Win the Golden Ticket in Life”