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Responses to “Practicing Democracy”

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by David Bair

Please use this forum to discuss Westhieimer’s article “Practicing Democracy.” (This can be found in the Summer/Fall 2013 issue of Colleagues, pages 12-18.) For those of you who are in my EDF 315 course, think about how Westheimer’s position compares with the readings from the textbook. How would you apply these ideas in schools? How might they lead toward the development of a healthy democracy?

39 Comments


sparde10

Posted on Oct. 10th

Sean Parde
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11
This chapter feeds off of our last one with Bottom Line movie. This was talking about the educational philosophies during the movement where there was money for education. The 1980’s were a big movement trying to equalize education for everyone. We keep asking what the purpose of equation is. I would say that the purpose of education is to get an education and give everyone the chance to achieve that. Schools can serve as many purposes to people as educational and vocational places. When asked if the test is the curriculum now, I believe that it is because that is how are society works, because we have to always take placement tests to see where everyone is at and then we get placed.

Shashauna

Posted on Oct. 10th

Shashauna Sampson
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

Westheimer has a lot of very strong views towards education. In the second paragraph of his article he states, “since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” By this statement he is trying to say that since we do not have any simple way of assessing students’ abilities to think, create, question, analyze, or work together, we turn to “where the light is”. In which he believes that the light is on standardized measures of students’ ability to decode sentences and solve mathematical problems. Westheimer believes that schools are not teaching students the right skills to which they will use in the world today. He thinks that school practices are in danger of becoming irrelevant to anything but the narrowest of educational goals.
Also in the article, there is an old quote he uses. This quote states, “Everybody likes to teach critical thinking, but nobody wants a school full of critical thinkers.” He believes that students are being asked to learn to read but not to consider what’s worth reading. They are being asked to become proficient in adding numbers, but not at thinking about what the answer add up to. Basically he is expressing that he feels educators are teaching students the fundamentals but then leaving out the reasoning.
Westheimer then goes on to talk about how educators and parents want children to know more than just the “formulas”. They want the knowledge that students acquire to be implanted in the amenity of something bigger. They want their students to develop the kinds of relationships, attitudes, dispositions, and skills necessary for them to engage in democratic and community life.
Overall, I think Westheimer’s goal of education would be that we are to prepare students for the world they are about to be forced into. He believes in teaching children the skills they will use to become involved in their democratic life.

seanparde

Posted on Oct. 10th

When reading the article Westheimer is was really interesting to get his perspective on a lot of problems or topics we have in today’s education. I agree with a lot of what he is saying especially imagination is getting crushed by teachers. I actually talked about this with my art teacher and we were trying to figure out if imagination would come back to students and ways we can make imagination more evident in school systems. I believe imagination is very important and will help kids succeed. Also, with the testing he talks about, I do agree that it is not all fair to be based off of just testing. Schools are places where students learn, and schools are where you can become part of society even more, because there are so many outlets that lead from the school. School systems give teachers a very broad curriculum to teach from and that can be a good and bad thing. Good, because you can learn about so many things and have endless possibilites. On the bad side though, we might not be teaching children what they need to learn to move on to the next grade or even be ready for life. I really like how Westheimer talked about the Breakfast program that they use in Canada and I believe this should be used all over the nation to help children in school. Lastly, I’m going to talk about teachers being stripped of there voice pretty much. Teachers are the ones teaching and with kids everyday, they need to have a bigger voice to make a difference and impact on there school and children.

wymerje

Posted on Oct. 10th

Jenna Wymer
EDF 315
Learning unit 11.
In this article the main point I think would be the being able to practice democracy. He explains to us that practicing democracy invokes a discourse that draws from many theoretical traditions. Although it does embrace a vision of education that is clear about the need to push back against the narrowing of the school curriculum. I do think that the curriculum is one of the main tests now in are education system. I believe that students are being taught based on being able to pass many tests that have to deal with our curriculum. I believe the curriculum has gotten much more important these days than it has been in previous years. It is almost like a guide line to success for students. I believe that he does a great job explaining why we should use democratic practice in our schooling. This will help the students in the long run help prepare themselves for society in the democratic aspect of life.
I would have to agree with Sean about the main ideas being about the educational philosophies during the movements when there was more money being put toward education. I also agree with Shashuana about Westheimer’s goal on education very much.

laura17

Posted on Oct. 10th

Laura Ayoub
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11
In this article, I thought it was important how Westheimer starts out with an analogy for our schooling and educational systems. The man and his lost keys is a good way to point out that, although teachers and faculty know what needs to happen in order for students to reach their full potential, they are stuck in the light, where it is easy to measure ability and knowledge. This way of measurement–standardized testing and unrealistic methods–is causing a great lack in students’ ability to grow and develop in a way that prepares them for the world they are going in to. Westheimer talks about the narrow curriculum goals and standardized testing that have left students unaware of anything that can apply to them in their lives outside of school. It is a living matter of information and skills without the integration of context and social meaning. This, to me, is not what education should be about. Education means that everyone is to acquire a basis of information and skills that is needed for a strong mind and an influential knowledge about the world outside of the classroom to be used critically throughout one’s life. Everyone deserves an education and deserves to be taught right. A much wider and engaging curriculum needs to be taught and learned. Westheimer fully described his belief in methods of teaching that incorporate the skills children need to succeed in a democratic life.

hargett

Posted on Oct. 10th

Lindsey Hargett
EDF 315
LU 11

In this article when Westheimer talks about Practicing Democracy he means “to invoke a discourse that draws from many theoretical traditions but that embraces the a vision of education that is clear about the need to push back against the narrowing of the school curriculum.” He touches on the “No Child Left Behind Act” and how it has lead schools to only focus on testing rather than the deeper meaning of why we do the things we do. If we focus more on the analytical aspects of the things we learn then we can create students that think critically about things and will in turn apply that too the society in which they live. Schools have cut back greatly on many other important subject areas in order to be prepared for state tests. They want teachers to focus mainly on reading and math prep in order to excel in these tests. He cites a school in Ottawa, Ontario that provides breakfast each morning to 8000 students and the reason it is funded by the government is because it is proven that it helps students pay more attention throughout the day and in turn improves test scores. This is a huge contradiction because the government is requiring them to have an educational reason to feed these children and they don’t only feed them because they are hungry. This shows how far school systems have fallen from the main purpose of education because they are too focused on the outcome of standardized tests. Westheimer also states something that I think is very critical to helping children develop into democracy ready citizens. He says “If education policy
makers, teachers, and administrators hope to contribute to
students’ democratic potential, they must resist the narrowing of the curriculum.” Schools shouldn’t persistently narrow their curriculums to be better prepared for standardized tests. This is detrimental to the knowledge of the child. If students are well rounded they can think more critically and analytically on these standardized tests and succeed just as much if not more. Teachers are also being stripped of their voice in the classroom. They no longer have a say in what they want to teach to help further their students learning. They now must follow a strict curriculum that focuses on testing. To me this is not how I want to teach although I know it is probably inevitable. Schools need to focus more on well-rounded and critical thinking students in order for them to become better citizens that practice democracy. In essence, practicing democracy begins in schools.

makowska

Posted on Oct. 10th

Allison Makowski
EDF 315
Education has always been thought of as a way to participate in our democratic society. Preparing students to practice democracy has been one of our educational goals as well. Westheimer states that we can’t measure what we care about so we care about what me measure. He is saying that we can not measure if our students are going to be able to participate well in our society, so instead we measure things like if they can add or subtract. We focus a lot on standardized tests. He says that our educational methods do not meet our goals of education so they are suffering. We need to change in order to prepare students for a democratic life. Unfortunately our narrowed school curriculum prevents teachers from doing this. Educators are creating “fact full” students when we need critical thinkers which is also hindered by our current curriculum. Westheimer also states “everybody likes to teach critical thinking, but nobody wants a school full of critical thinkers,” which I think is completely true. We place such an importance on standardized tests and more and more emphasize on math and literacy. Instead, we cut back on important subjects like arts and social studies and in depth thinking. We need students to think about the world around them and not just how to solve equations. Then if teachers to place importance on interrupting skills, they are criticized and told they do not care about their student’s learning. I think that Westhiemer brought up a lot of good criticisms of our current educational system and ways to change it. All these things go along with what we have learned throughout the semester and the changes made in our system from the 17th century to the present day system.

alannarycenga

Posted on Oct. 10th

This article debates the overall approach to standardized testing and its overall impact on education today. It goes into how school systems have started to focus on what they can measure in standardized testing but what they fail to measure is the overall intelligence and ability of a student. Joel Westheimer’s fundamental belief is “humanism supports democracy and human rights; the principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.” Westheimer believes that in education creativity and imagination is in the decline. He believes that before standardized testing there was more motivation in children to learn and he thinks there is less overall enthusiasm. He argues that it’s not fun for children to learn anymore. He believes that to fix this problem there should be more “real world” situations brought into the learning environment.

daniellevanwylen

Posted on Oct. 10th

Danielle VanWylen
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

I really liked how this article started out. I think using the analogy was a great way to get me as a reader interested and thinking about the article. I agree with the article when it says that using standardized methods is not making our students ability to grow and develop. I agreed with that statement because I think that students need a basic education but they also need to be taught basic skills that they will use in their everyday life. It is so important that students are able to accomplish and understand how to do tasks on their own and some of these tasks aren’t taught in school. One example of this would be how to balance a check book. I was never taught how to do this in high school. The bank had to teach me! I think that every student should be taught these life skills. Its important that each student gets a solid education but learning everyday skills is just as important. I think that Westhiemer gave us a lot to think about when it comes to education and I think its important that the issues that education and curriculum have are addressed and educators come up with a solution.

JoeGrose

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315-12
LU 11

Mr. Westheimer brings up some valid issues regarding our education system today. I agree that standardized tests cannot measure creativity and relationship building, but they can test knowledge in areas of math and reading. But when education turns to only teach and measure these disciplines, then many factors that help create well educated individuals are being disregarded. I think John Dewey was right that “The school is an institution in which the child is, for the time, to live-to be a member of a community life in which he feels that he participates, and to which he contributes.” It is in schools that people learn how to behave and work in a community, and a democratic society does, as Westheimer put in, “require citizens who can think and act in ethically thoughtful ways.”
I had not heard of new behavior disorders like Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorders before, but I do think that the U.S. has a history of quick diagnosis and medication, without much regard for the source of the issues. It is not surprising that these cases are rising in areas of low socioeconomic status, where education is being cut to the bear necessities of standardized tests. I think Mr. Westheimer made it clear that many parents and educators expect more than what our education system is allowing, and students are not learning the skills necessary to participate in a thoughtful, democratic society where people are entitled to their own ideals, but can debate respectfully for the betterment of the community.

mackliev

Posted on Oct. 10th

I do think schools, especially public schools, can serve both academic and vocational purposes. However, as Joel Westheimer alluded to in his article, I think schools are so narrowly focused on achieving successful results on standardized tests. As a result, subjects that encourage creativity and critical thinking were eliminated and subjects like Mathematics were given more attention.

Schools that have more resources to allocate are doing extremely well in producing students that are well-rounded and prepared to participate in the social, political and economic aspects of society. Unfortunately, schools that are struggling, mainly urban school districts, are still producing students for entry-level positions and not for further education.

I recently went to an educational session regarding White Privilege at a NASPA regional conference. The facilitator alluded to this concept of education and certain tracks that different races are placed into. Generally speaking, White students are prepared for college and Black and Hispanic/Latino students are prepared for entry-level positions. To support his argument, he asked us to consider standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT tests. He indicated the tests were inherently discriminatory towards people of Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic cultures.

He reported that the ACT and SAT officials reviewed previous test results and looked for questions that students generally did well on. Those questions would remain on the tests and the questions that only a certain amount of students did well on would be pitched. The facilitator then went on to say that those questions that only a few got right were questions that black students did well on. However, due to the percentage of white students taking the tests versus minority students, the results favored white students. And, generally, white students are going to attend suburban schools that have way more resources to prepare these students for these standardized tests. As a result, white students will have an advantage of being accepted into colleges and universities. (more information on this facilitator can be found on his website http://www.artmunin.com)I could be mis-interpreting his presentation, but that is what I took away from it. I provided his website information for those that want more information on him above.

mackliev

Posted on Oct. 10th

Forgot to include class and name on the above post.

Evan Macklin
EDF 315

daniellevanwylen

Posted on Oct. 10th

Danielle VanWylen
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

I agree with Joe when he says that standardized tests can’t measure creativity. I understand why we have standardized tests but I think that schools focus too much on them. There are more important things to focus on at school other than getting great scores on standardized tests. I thing students should also be exposed to the arts and music too. We need our students of today to be well rounded individuals and to do that they need both vocational skills and an education.

David Bair

Posted on Oct. 10th

Several of you commented on the narrowing of the curriculum that Westheimer discusses. I find this to be one of the most troubling aspects of the current trends in education. As we narrow the curriculum, we are actually narrowing the exposure to ideas….and the potential ideas our students can draw from when engaging with the world. Students are going to need every resource at their disposal to address the personal and social challenges they will face as they grow up. To limit their schooling in such a way will make it difficult for them to solve the pressing problems they will face. And as Westheimer points out, they will fundamentally be unable to fully participate in a democracy. Is that really what we want to do to our children? Why, then, do we so casually capitulate to these current demands on schooling that virtually dis-empower students? How can we reclaim the conversation about the purpose of schooling?
–David Bair

ahmedelmi

Posted on Oct. 10th

Ahmed Elmi
EDF315
Response to 3 different articles

Teach the Educators (Teacher)
I enjoyed reading the first 3 articles in the catalogue. So when I got to reading the Practicing Democracy I had the other two articles in mind. I really enjoyed his opening introduction with the man looking for his keys. But the statement that caught my eye was the second to last sentence which stated “Since we have relatively primitive ways of assessing students’ abilities to form healthy relationships, think, create, question, analyze, and work in concert with others to improve their communities and the world, we turn instead to where the light is.” He is pretty much stating that the way we are being taught hasn’t change even though the teaching material has changed. We have all new textbooks and advanced technology but we still teach the material the same way. So when he says since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure. I understood it as, we are not look to change what we are use to or in other word we don’t want to change what we are confortable with. I really liked his promotion of k-16 system of collaboration. I believe that in order to have student ready for the next level, whether it be higher education like a masters program in college or in the work force we need to move toward this notion of k-

shelbytedrow

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

“Practicing Democracy” related to the documentary “The Bottom Lines” that we viewed. Westheimer proposed a lot of similar points that were covered in the film. As discussed in the film, schools in the 1980s shifted their focus to test scores. The curriculum started to become narrower and students were becoming less prepared for college or work. The profit of schools increased when test scores increased. Westheimer talks about why this is an issue and why this will not work to educate our students. I liked Westheimer’s quote, “Since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” Sadly, I think this is occurring in many of our schools today. We focus on reading and math, because that is what the state tests students on. In addition, what gets tested is what is getting taught even if it means cutting time from other subject areas. As a future teacher, I think it will be important to teach students to think beyond the facts and skills of the curriculum. We need to provide students when the information they need to think about the subject matter in substantive ways. Democracy is all about choice. If we give students freedom to explore their interests and ideas, then we are promoting a healthy democracy. By teaching them to not think critically and teach without context and social meaning, we are leaning towards a dictatorship rather than a democracy.

sarahshanahan

Posted on Oct. 10th

Westheimer really opens your eyes wide on the topic of democracy in education in this article. It is evident that many, if not most, schools in our nation are far to focused on the importance of test scores from our students. But, is this truly the right way to educate students? This is the question that Westheimer is getting at in the article. Schooling is being pin pointed on the preparation of testing, mainly in math and reading. Yes, its important for all students to know how to do math and know how to read, but the way that it is often taught these days does not require any critical thinking, imagination, creativity, etc. Therefor, I do not think that the students are receiving the education that they should be, one of rich, creative ways of teaching. “Since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” This is a quote that stood out to me from the article. Whats being most measured is math and reading, for the purpose of testing and state standards. These two things alone can not measure ones full capability. Since reading and math are being so emphasized, other important subjects are being cut from the curriculum to free up more time for test prep time. I find this very disturbing, because it is very important for kids to have classes like art, gym, and even science to broaden and strengthen skills and facts in all areas.

sarahdebruine

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Week of March 24
Joel Westheimer clearly lays out the current educational situation, not only in Canada, but also in America. The government requires such a strong focus on standardized testing, that instruction focusing on critical thinking skills, creativity, and character development must laid aside. It is much more difficult for the teachers to teach according to their students’ interests. The students only learn the facts, but not why they are facts. They are given defined terms to memorize, preselected vocabulary words, and predigested essay topics among many other things. This method does not teach problem-solving strategies. It does not promote student interest in learning. With these regulations on curriculum being taught, the high school drop-out rates are not be lessened, the students are not be more motivated to complete their assignments. Rather, the government is raising a generation of people who may have testing experience, but who have not received the education necessary to participate maturely in a democratic society.

sarahdebruine

Posted on Oct. 10th

Westheimer described the situation we learned about in “The Bottom Line” last week. We have to ask in whose interests these students are being educated? In the interests of the free marketplace, or to promote individual success? In our reading, Dewey promotes vocational schooling over a testing-based curriculum. I can understand this since the test-based curriculum narrows down the educational focus so much that the students aren’t learning anything extra (gym, home-economics, shop, etc.).
-Sarah DeBruine

bsuttorp

Posted on Oct. 10th

I really agreed with this article when it talked about how standardized testing is not an effective strategy for helping our students to grow academically and develop as thinkers.The importance (as stated in the article) rests in teaching students basic life skills that will help them to succeed in the world once leaving school. I agreed with that statement because I think that students need a basic education but they also need to be taught basic skills that they will use in their everyday life. While I believe that academic knowledge is of course important and a very essential and important part of school, academic knowledge can take a person only so far. At some point, a person has to know how to do simple every day tasks such as handling money, changing a flat tire, how to write a resume or basic cooking skills. I liked that this article agreed with my thoughts in that sense of students needing to be taught every day skills in order to help them achieve their dreams and become successful people in today’s world and economy. I believe that school systems would be much more successful if they focused less on having the best standardized test scores and more on having students with the most potential to thrive and survive in the world outside of the school walls. What do standardized test scores really say about a student? Many people think they say a lot, but there is much more to a person than what answer they chose on a test in comparison to thousands of other students.

albrecke

Posted on Oct. 10th

I appreciated the summary left on page 12 which provided a concise explanation for schools in a democratic society. The goal claims that the purpose of education is to assess student’s abilities to form healthy relationships, think, create, question, analyse, and work in concert with others to improve their communities and the world. This is the core principle of education most Americans can agree on. It is this unified goal approached from a number of cultural perspectives that makes education and other facets of life “democratic.”

The mention of the no child left behind policy was sort of an easy target when it comes to the dangers of standardization. When there is such an emphasis on math and reading/writing by the federal government or by the state government, motivation to provide an enriching environment for arts and humanities suffers. It is troubling because while no parent, teacher or administrator will say that critical thinking skills are not important, that type of thinking is lost when education is approached from a 1-dimensional perspective brought on by legislature and standardized testing.

I had not heard of CAD, but the not-so-healthy balance of that and ODD in schools can easily lead one to believe these disorders are over diagnosed. I do not want to believe that schools are an institution that attempts to kill non-compliance or total subordination. I feel bad when I see a student chastised for yelling too loudly in class when I know that student has a biological problem.

The mention of stripping away of teacher professionalism is something I’ve been addressing and pondering through this semester. There will always be parents who will let teachers do what they will, and there will always be just as many parents who do what they can to avoid liability on their own part for any problems a child is facing. School is an easy target for parents to blame the difficulties of raising a child perfectly.

albrecke

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Weekly Learning Unit March 24

sydshew

Posted on Oct. 10th

In this article, Westheimer talks about how school testing is affecting the schools curriculum. Cutting important aspects of schooling because testing is more important than learning is just ridiculous. Westheimer’s ideas on what he believes are really interesting. Schools want to focus on testing and preparing kids for those tests, but what about helping them to grow and learn for their lives? Yes, testing seems to be a big deal lately. We have read about the development of testing, especially for college testing, recently and how colleges seem to want the best and the brightest. Yet, students are missing out on important educational qualities because of testing and how testing is used to determine their intellectual abilities. Testing does not show off the students strengths, but it shows how well students can learn facts. Tests do not show how a student is, there is a lot more to a student than the number they receive on these tests. Like what the article says, curriculum shoves facts down students throats. I believe it is the teachers jobs to make sure the students grow as learners and individuals and to help them be able to learn everything. Not just what is required.

sydshew

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Week of March 24
Sydney Shewmaker

blaskt

Posted on Oct. 10th

I think that this article is very interesting. In my opinion, it’s nice to see the thoughts about schooling today from the author’s perspective. He brings up a very interesting but educational topic specifically relating to teaching students to be critically thinking all the time, and how there is a lack of doing so within schools these days. There are so many specific “skills” that are being taught within the classroom these days, that are wrapped around a testing-based curriculum, instead of those concepts that involve deep-processing, critical thinking.

On page 14, there is a subsection with Jack Jenning’s personal thoughts on what is being taught. This opened my eyes a lot, and basically stated that what’s tested is taught, and nothing else is of importance. Because testing is “so important”, or so many schools, and states believe, the teachers are enforced to teach material that will allow the students to succeed on testing, with no time for anything else that ISN’T on the tests. Because this testing is such a priority, there are several “narrow subjects” being taught, which lead to a dry, “emaciated” curriculum, which is being shown to be a disadvantage to students.

Because standardized testing is so heavily enforced by schools, students are learning the basic “facts” but not why they are the “facts”. They are not being taught to critically think, or to involve deep-processing into their school work, but instead just to simply memorize something basically. This is sad, for both the students and the teachers. The teacher’s are being held accountable for the test scores, and therefore have to follow the curriculum that supports that, and only that basically, otherwise, they are being held accountable, and looked down upon. As for the students, they are just not being held to the standards of thinking that they are capable of, which shortens them of their ability and knowledge.

brittanichristensen

Posted on Oct. 10th

Brittani Christensen
EDF 315
Weekly Learning Unit March 24, 2014

Westheimer brings up some very good points in his article. He mentions that John Dewey’s original vision and intention for the American school is for students to be able to find themselves while at school, not just to simply learn things, of which I completely agree with. School has become a place where students are drilled with advanced material and they aren’t getting as much time in school to be free, creative, and explore new things, socially.
I also agree that due to No Child Left Behind, the arts and other special classes have been cut or completely eliminated from schools in order to save money and focus fully on core subjects, specifically math and reading. The arts are so important for students, because it allows them to express themselves and discover new talents/interests. Also, mostly focusing on reading and math is not fair for students, because learning sciences and social studies open up a new area of interests and possible future career choices for the students’ futures. While I know that reading and math tend to be students’ most challenging subjects that also seem to be used more in general life, but the other subjects should not be ignored. Throughout history, educators have been trying to improve schools and have been influenced by John Dewey, and the fact that schools are becoming more or less similar to dictatorships, since creativity is becoming non-existent in schools. I agree that today has become the era of standardized testing, because everything in schools has become the road to passing a state or national test. Individuality, creativity, and democracy are fading away because of this, and while schools are supposed to be improving, they are not. The students are the whole reason for education, and, obviously, it seems that the students are not in schools’ best interests anymore.
As for students who are being labeled with new names of disorders, it is ridiculous, in my opinion. Each student is uniquely different and acts differently than others. Labeling them and saying that they have a disorder or condition and then claiming that they need medication seems a bit extreme to me. Teachers need to accommodate to whatever their students’ needs are and not blame students on their so-called “disorder.” After all, the students are kids and they are not perfect, so of course they will act up, defy authority, and have too much energy, but that’s what kids do. Placing a label on them and saying that they need to take medication is not helping the student at all and forcing compliancy is not teaching the student how to correctly behave, but rather making them.
Finally, I really like Westheimer’s point in saying that illuminating one area and only focusing on that, darkens another area. He is exactly right and this is what is happening to education. Every area needs to be equally illuminated and not ignored. The students are the priority and they need to be taught about all things, not just what is going to be tested.

alexstam

Posted on Oct. 10th

Alexandra Stam
EDF 315-10

I thought “Practicing Democracy” was a very well written article and also very informative. During the article Jack Jenning’s brings up a very important point when he says, “there is so much riding on the reading and math included on state tests, many schools have cut back time on other important subject areas, which means that some students are not receiving a broad curriculum”. I believe that this is becoming more and more relevant in today’s world. So many teacher’s view their school agenda as a “check-list” of things they MUST accomplish during the school day. I do not agree with this. I believe that students need to be taught a wide spectrum of subjects and be taught them effectively and well. Teachers who are just “checking” something of the list to check it off are not going to be successful teachers.

I also found it interesting when the article said, “engaging students in thinking about the world beyond the bubble-form answer sheet and their role in shaping the future of that world, is, in too many schools, an extracurricular activity” I think that that is absolutely ridiculous. Students need to be taught about life outside of school. Teachers cannot just focus their curriculum and teaching based on things that are going to be on standardized. This type of teaching is not fair for the students and is going to result in ineffective and unsuccessful futures for the students.

I also found it extremely interesting when the article said, “the more the curriculum is narrowed to focus on a highly discrete set of skills, the greater the number of students who are quarantined in this emaciated swath and who act out a result”. Why are teacher’s continuously teaching information that results in their students’ acting out? The curriculum of an classroom needs to be broad. Students need to learn a variety of subjects and life skills that are going to benefit them in their future. Spending countless hours on math and reading just so students can pass standardized testing is absolutely asinine.

Overall, I think this article was extremely interesting!

donsonb

Posted on Oct. 10th

Blake Donson
EDF 315-11
Week of March 24th

I really like the thoughts brought up about schools curriculums being focused around school testing. These subjects that are being hindered by the testing subjects (math and english) are just as important as the rest. When a school is doing such a thing like this, it is restricting a child from excelling in their own personal education. The school is worried about getting good test scores while the students are typically worried about all of their grades in each subject. So if a student is restricted to the amount of time they receive in a certain subject, they will worry more about the subjects being reduced rather than the ones being focused on.

donsonb

Posted on Oct. 10th

It also stuck me a bit when he began talking about why schools offer children breakfast. It should never be for any other reason other than to feed a child that is hungry and is not able to eat at home for whatever reason that student has. You should not be feeding a student because you want him or her to focus better so that then they can do better on testing. That is a very unacceptable thing in my eyes for a school to do.

sconnelly

Posted on Oct. 10th

I found this article by Westmeister very interesting. I thought he brought up a lot of thought provoking ideas, some of them that I’ve wrestled with as I consider my future as an educator. I certainly have recognized the narrowing in of curriculum and I find this unsettling. He specifically used the example of eliminating the arts, and that is heartbreaking to me since I find such identity and purpose in art, especially music. My music classes through my high school experience was absolutely key for me. Of course I learned skills and techniques that allowed me play various instruments, but more importantly I learned about teamwork (playing in an orchestra), confidence and presentation (performances on stage), discipline, patience, and developed a strive for excellence. All of those skills can be applied to my job and education now, and certainly will be qualities I will use at any job in the future. Music truly has helped me, and will help me, be a contributer to democracy.

With that being said, I certainly don’t dismiss the importance of reading and mathematics, but the continuous narrowing in on these two subjects only are, in my opinion, dismissing the American dream, the idea that any one can aspire to be whatever they want to be. Now there is a push, whether intentional or not, for students to perfect these skills and it is really limiting their opportunties.

-Shannon Connelly

mccullch

Posted on Oct. 10th

On page 12 we read, “Since we have relatively primitive ways of assessing students’ abilities to form healthy relationships, think, create, question, analyse, and work in concert with others to improve their communities and the world, we turn instead to where the light is: standardized measures of students’ abilities to decode sentences and solve mathematical problems. In other words, since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” Wow. I’ve never seen my thoughts wrapped up so perfectly in text. This says it all and is so powerful. Standardized tests are doing no one a favor. They are hurting our education system and pulling the focus away from kids and towards numbers. By numbers I mean money, high test scores, and statistics. I know I first wanted to be a teacher to make kids into the best versions of themselves they can be, and inspire them to be great people. That was before I began college and learned of all the laws and curriculum and standardization. Now society just wants teachers to be able to produce huh scoring robots instead of creating caring, creative and thoughtful members of society. I know I didn’t become an education major to suck the creativity and soul out of my students or to limit them. The structure of the educational system needs to be re-thought and designed to facilitate well-rounded, happy members of society. We need to teach useful people skills and ethics. The world is becoming a scary place, and schools have the power to dictate the behaviors and knowledge of future generations.

ttejchma12

Posted on Oct. 10th

Trevor Tejchma

Unlike most of the students, I do not agree with a lot of the statements in this article. I think that a lot of things in this article are over dramatized. However, I do think that schools are too focused on standardized testing and I also think that many programs are being cut when they shouldn’t be, but standardized tests should be important. Math and Reading are very important in all aspects of curriculum. Students need to be proficient in these subjects in order to succeed in other aspects of the curriculum.

weinbera

Posted on Oct. 10th

I found this document really interesting. A lot of the things that were said really stunned me. Just the fact that 71% of schools have cut down or eliminated subjects like science makes me want to be sick. I can’t even begin to explain how different my life would be if I was not able to have science and the arts in my school. It is sad to me that the students I would teach would not be able to have the same experience that I had. I became a teacher so that I could inspire younger students to enjoy science as much as I did. I am already trying to figure out ways that I can incorporate it into my classroom.

kelseyfaber

Posted on Oct. 10th

Kelsey Faber
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

It is hard to know where to draw the line with standardized tests. There are definitely ups and downs to them and there needs to be balance in subjects students are being taught and what gets the most focus. Yes, standardized tests are important, but maybe not that important. Schools should be focused on bettering their students and helping each student get the best education possible — not competing with other schools test schools in order for their school to “come out on top.” It seems like all schools care about is being better than other schools. Every subject in schools is important to help make well-rounded people who will flourish in their life, no matter what career path they choose and whether or not they get that 100%.

mitchmeg

Posted on Oct. 10th

Meghan Mitchell
EDF 315
Learning Unit 11

I think one of the most important sections of “Practicing Democracy” is the part entitled “The Test Score that Ate humanity”. This section is about how too much emphasis is put on test scores today. The author believes that “overemphasizing standardized assessments in a narrow band of subjects can lead to an intellectually emaciated curriculum”. In other words, standardized assessments are having a negative impact on curriculum. Teachers today are more interested in students getting good test scores rather than teaching which is included in the curriculum and teaching students new things. The author also makes a point of how only specific school subjects are getting addressed; only subjects that are tested in part of standardized tests, such as math and science, are focused on rather than art or music. This will eventually have an impact on the students’ learning abilities and how creative they could potentially be. I’m taking EDI 337 this semester, and this is one of the big conversations we had. My professor made a good point that standardized tests are changing the way future teachers are learning how to teach. Future teachers are learning to put more emphasis on standardized tests rather than learning how to actually teach. These tests aren’t only affecting students and their learning, but also teachers and how they can teach.

dorianash

Posted on Oct. 10th

Dorian Ash
EDF 315

Westheimer points out that among all of the important abilities that students should really be evaluated on, we “turn instead to where the light is: standardized measures of students’ abilities to decode sentences and solve mathematical problems.” We seem to continue in doing what is easy, not necessarily what is best for students and the society. The issue is, the education system has been overtaken and defined by numbers, and these numbers hardly have anything to do with the values and abilities that really matter when it comes to defining one’s intellectual skills. In order to make progress, it seems that the best option is to keep a very open mind when it comes to educational and curricular reform. To make the curriculum simply black and white is to completely work against the sake of progress in American education.

Nisreenm10

Posted on Oct. 10th

The article written by Westheimer is very captivating. He starts with a man searching for his keys, where there is light, but not in the area he knows he lost them in. This plays into his concept when he talks about education he states, “Since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” This is a very powerful statement because it holds so much truth. We know what needs to be done to provide a better education, however we fail to do so because we don’t know how to measure it. Westheimer places an emphasis on policies such as no child left behind and analyzes their true purpose. He states that the importance of standardized testing has taken such great priority within our school systems, that anything is being done to help improve student’s scores in areas like reading and math. Doing so, has neglected other subjects such as history, science, and extracurricular, those are equally critical to students learning experience. It has left many students unprepared for the real world; so much pressure has been placed in memorizing the “formula” that we no long really understand the problem.

bartlinl

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Lauren Bartling

As many of you mentioned above, it’s overwhelming to read this article and dive deeper into the idea that our current education system is losing sight of practical and diverse educational curricula and segmenting it into testing practice. If we are looking for our students to have the ability to fully participate in democracy, then how are we going to shift our curriculum to better suit our students rather then the test scores? He makes a point near the beginning of his article, “since we can’t measure what we care about, we begin to care about what we can measure.” When did we decide that caring about are curriculum would get trumped by the ability to measure student understanding? Teachers are professionals who are trained to not only instruct but also measure and assess students, so why is it such a necessity for states and companies to test our students on math and literacy when we have teachers in the classroom who are more than prepared to assess their students? The ideas our students are exposed to in school are what will help them outside in society. I often think about my own education and wonder what I was taught that actually carried me through life after high school. To be a member of society, I don’t need to know the most efficient way to set up a 5-paragraph essay for a high score, nor do I need to memorize the Pythagorean Theorum. Unfortunately, I know both of those things because my teachers focused on narrowing their curricula to better suit my testing, not the rest of my life. I think this issue requires reevaluation. If we want to bring up children to be powerful and intelligent members of society, then what they learn in school should reflect that. Influence in all areas (the arts, history, sciences, languages, cultures, news, mathematics, English, literature, etc.) will allow students to be well informed. These other classes will add to their developing critical thinking skills as well, since the more world knowledge and experience you have, the better you can respond to questions. How do we refocus our view on where education is headed? When do we begin caring about the students we teach rather than the tests they are required to take?

blairsab

Posted on Oct. 10th

EDF 315
Sabrina R Hatfield
Journal #9

As discussed in this article, school testing is causing a change to the school curriculum. In my opinion, it is absolutely devastating that such an emphasis on testing is taking away from so many other important aspects of learning development. I find it devastating that the social and individual skill development are being eliminated within schools to make way for increased testing. I understand the importance of testing, as it is essential for students to show potential colleges how successful they are, but I also believe it is important for the creative and social development to also be seen by colleges. When I think about the people that I interact with on a daily basis I find it sad to think that my doctor could be a genius, but lack the social skills needed to intensify the healing of patients. I think there are a lot more to students than their ability to take tests and if society continues to ignore these other aspects then we will be setting up our society’s future for failure.

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