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Friday, May 3, 2013

18 Shut up and focus: evaluating knowledge

Children and I had so much fun everyday that it was not difficult for the children to learn to answer questions, even those with a higher level of complexity, and when they doubted, found out the way of deducting responses based on what they knew it was wrong, I waslearning so much from their minds, until our mentor reminded us that assessments are applied in closed classrooms and in silence, where even your own breath can cause discomfort so that with enough time, I began teaching to  children to act like robots and still be ready for the test. Why does education forget that children are happy creatures?.
We started with 2 minutes of absolute silence to answer questions, to all of us it was like an eternity, and I guess I not had realized that our classroom was considered like noisy until  Director entered suddenly, opening the door as if there were a fire. All of us looked at her and when she called me, she did it in a way that  I thought her  cell phone had failed in the toilet.

-What is going on here, David?, your students are never so quiet what are you planning?.

 The question was so direct that caught me by surprise, I could hear myself  mumbling  while I attempted to answer her. 

 Nothing, Madam Director, we are learning to focus for exams.

  - She looked inside like if we were hiding a dead body behind the door and then withdrew. I felt like when you copied during the test and the teacher look at directly to your eyes.

The concentration time stretched more and more each day. We had a sign on the door saying: danger: kids thinking!. Theresa told me that she had already learned to control her breathing as she was moving the pencil, this was like a torture, but all of them  were taking it in good way. 

Evaluation day is not far from the moment in which a condemned to  death knows his sentence, everyone has to pay a debt with the education system. Nobody can  sleep since for weeks before, everybody  around students are nervous, there are extra hours of study, the stress begins, some suffer nightmares. I remember one I had frequently in which I was in the middle of the exam and my eyes were covered with  papers and everyone in the room laughed thunderously for my stupid and I couldn’t see, nor remove the  sheets from my face, I heard only the clock inevitably running. I always woke up covered in sweat and horribly, always happened the day of the exam, that made me even more nervous.

No child or student around the world deserve this torture. If tests are supposed to improve the way you learn,  why have things not changed with the passage of generations?

Oh in fact, I retract!, they have changed!, now everything is worse, and students will have more tests and more educators take a slice of this business which nobody cares about children.

The day of the test the security measures were so extreme that I thought that they  would put children through a brain scanner to make sure they did not have a brilliant idea, one of those that could change the world. We changed our classroom, teachers we raffled off and we could not even be with our children, because we could give them the answers (like if that would serve to learn more), they gave them special pencils, to prevent them to have tattooed all the answers on their pencils or perhaps on the erasers. They reviewed pockets children hair, like if they were condemned to death and decide to hide a clip to escape from the gallows.

No one could speak, and the silence was so disturbing for children of eighth grade that I felt sorry for them. I assumed that they were more comfortable but I guess that everybody has the idea that they have to adapt and for the first time in my life, I prayed a little for my children. I didn't care if they approved or not, no one cares what do they know, I just wanted that they felt no fear. We had practiced much, no doubt they would be fine.

The day was so intense that I began to feel thoughts flying all over the room and bombed everything on its way, I began to feel migraine and although it was on this occasion on the other side and I was not the defendant, I could not stop feeling embarrassed by all this way to annihilate the ideas, creativity and childhood of humans on behalf of a better future that does not exist.  How come replying multiple answers made me a better person? When children ask me something I should be able to explain them what they need to know, not to choose between answers that someone thinks that are correct.

When we walk through life, nobody will be thinking of multiple choices, do you want a coffee? A Hot, B cold, C with three Strawberry tarts , D all the above and what is going on with you?, have you not ever heard of hunger in the world?

When we leave the prison cell, I  was thinking about having a drink of tasteless lemonade with my Gaby at my mentor’s home, they were waiting anxiously for me, but when I was ready to cross the street, 8my children ran toward me, was so dull that I was not easy to give me notice that were real and not ghosts, until they all hugged me and if not for a post I would have tackled.

I hugged them all and I asked them how they had been, desperately look for lesions in their minds, but their smiles made me feel better, all of them spoke in order as usual and Dana read their minds explaining their thoughts: It was not difficult to focus, we were like zombies on Halloween and we answered everything!.

All were happy, as always, perhaps it should rely on that infant fortress to survive to everything, until one day, the rope breaks and we become unhappy adults.

We only needed to wait for the results to know if our school would still open or if parents would face the news that their children wouldn't have a school next year.

I hate to say the obvious, but education sucks sometimes, learning is the easy part, and it can even be fun!

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