Monkey Brains

Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where the court sits down for a decadent and exotic meal?  What I remember is the monkeys.  At one point, the waiters bring each diner a restrained monkey.  The living animals sit helplessly  as their skulls are removed and their brains are eaten.  That scene scarred me.  I remember the fear and the pain in their faces, and their cries.

This week my fourth grade daughter is taking the TCAPS, a state test that’s going away after this year.   It’s not state law, but her school has decided to prohibit reading between tests.  They worry that a student will rush through so they can get back to their books.  I wish I were the parent who kept her child home, but I don’t want to take the day off and I don’t want to hurt her school.  At my school, opting out is not a permitted.  Even if a student misses the testing days, if he or she attends any time during the two week testing window, he or she will be pulled from class to take the test.  The choice is between taking the test or missing two weeks of school.

I’m not claiming that students are really damaged by the testing..  No one is screaming as we devour the contents of their skulls.  Although my friend’s son gets so nervous about the tests that he throws up and cant sleep.   I mostly worry about what it says about school and education.   A parent who stikes a child in order to teach them not to hit is undermining his own authority while sending a mixed message.  On our best days. we inspire and excite students about learning.    We teach them to value their own ways of thinking and learning because we value them as individuals.  We ask them to concentrate on improving rather than comparing themselves to others.  And then we stand in front of them with stern faces, saying, “there are ten minutes remaining on this test.”  Why should they trust us?

Big money is using our children for political reasons and turning them into numbers.  And I am complicit.  I   help deliver the monkeys to the table.

 

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6 comments on “Monkey Brains

  1. Colleen says:

    Wow! Very well written. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is definitely something wrong when when taking the joy of reading away from our children, in any form. This includes being allowed to read as well as reducing reading to a bunch of sub skills to be tested. Good food for thought.

  2. I so agree with you! What a wonderful way to explain it!

  3. We are all complying, but at this point, what’s the choice? Your analogy is powerful, although you’re not nearly in the same category as the monkey servers. I loved the part where you wrote: “On our best days. we inspire and excite students about learning. We teach them to value their own ways of thinking and learning because we value them as individuals. We ask them to concentrate on improving rather than comparing themselves to others. And then we stand in front of them with stern faces, saying, “there are ten minutes remaining on this test.” Why should they trust us?” The last line stopped me in my reading tracks. We have to explain to them why they should trust us, I guess. Really, really powerful use of a question.

  4. Tracey says:

    We too have these tests in Australia and then they publish the results on a website for all to see. Parents consult these websites to choose a school for their children, before they meet us, see our surroundings or know what our mission is. This is their first impression of us. One test on 3 separate days is what the government believes is the mark of a school and the children behind the numbers. Not inspiring is it? Great post.

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