The Loss of Creativity and Meaning

Eric Maisel, a creativity coach, talks about the need to make meaning in our work. One of the things I notice about creativity, art, and teaching, is that to be really good in the classroom and create meaning for kids, you have to be an extremely artistic person – your creativity is in the brain power and not the art as we would normally think about it. Which is one of the reasons my blog talks about teaching, because I see that as my major art form at this time. I create other art, but trying to create educated, capable children with untold options for the future is to my way of thinking one of the highest art forms.

That said, math kept me awake last night, because I kept getting so angry at the school district. I spent about three hours working on my math plans for the first three weeks back, and since I have to cover four specific objectives, I looked carefully through the pretest on these objectives. Normally I concentrate on the math concepts and how best to work for understanding these concepts.

But nooooo – not with this district and school. I have to actually teach to this specific test, screw understanding. The first thing I have to decide is how to meaningfully get across all this new vocabulary – a minimum of 10 words just to get into this objective, which is all about surface area and nets. Now, the Connected Math unit does an exceptional job of volume and teaching surface area (filling and wrapping), but I have to deconstruct the unit to pull out what is essential in these next three weeks. So a program that has 15 years of extremely successful results is no longer valued in the attempt to raise stupid test scores.

This next week will be spent on various strategies for teaching vocabulary (and attempting to get understanding), as well as drawing nets and trying to understand the concept of wrapping for surface area and filling for volume. I am diagnosing the test, in an attempt to get the kids to really look at these questions and see that with a little bit of new knowledge they can easily do this. The kids are not supposed to write on these, but I’m sorry – that’s not gonna happen. The kids are going to write all over these, make their notes, and so on. At least if I have to teach the stupid test, I can also teach basic study skills that will carry over to other disciplines and tests.

This makes me so angry I could spit. I can do this, no question about my abilities, and I can no doubt sneak in lots of other information to help make this meaningful and maybe have it actually “stick” for the kids. There is no doubt that this deconstruction of public education is a deliberate effort to change how our society educates children. Sure there are things wrong with public education, but teaching to a test is not going to solve any issues. (Too bad you didn’t see the draft of this sentence – it was a pretty ugly condemnation……..)

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