Student Motivation

Group of teachers wondering what is actually expected of teachers nowadays

I find myself wondering sometimes what is actually expected of teachers nowadays. We’re mandated by the states and Federal government to teach academic skills at a standardized level, but are warned not to teach to the tests. So if we teach kids the skills we believe they will need to succeed as adults, but these skills don’t match up to the standardized tests we are seen as failing.

We’re told that we need to differentiate our instruction to teach kids at their individual levels, but then they all take the same standardized exams to determine their learning levels.

We are supposed to be aware of cultural and socioeconomic differences, but not base our instruction on such differences, even though many of these students enter our classrooms without the skills to succeed or pass a standardized exam.

We have twenty to thirty students in each class and few if any have ever been given an intelligence test, aptitude test or interest inventory. We’re then asked to determine if the student struggles due to low intelligence, poor motivation, social issues, emotional issues, cultural issues, socioeconomic issues or possibly mental health issues; all with little or no background information of any use to make this determination.

So here’s my thought. What if “The Educational System” did away with standardized testing and took all this money that is spent on these mostly irrelevant tests and put it into testing the intellect, aptitude and interests of our students so we know a little more about them?

What if we based differentiated instruction on a student’s skills and interests so that when he/she graduated he/she was trained in the skills necessary to succeed in a career that fits with his/her intellect, aptitude and interest?

Let’s stop pretending we are training every student to go to college and into the white collar world. The world is filled with good semi-skilled and skilled labor positions that need good employees and there are students in our classrooms that would be considered very successful if they were able to fill these positions in a competent manner.

Maybe someday our educational system will quit trying to instruct our students as if they are all supposed to fit into and come out of the same mold and that the ultimate goal of “The System” is to produce a group of adults with similar skills in an ever diversified world. The final goal of twelve years of education should not be that we all passed the same test. The goal should be we are all trained to succeed at our maximum level in the adult world.