Daily Archives: May 12, 2010

British teachers strike a blow against testing; and a ridiculous product that confuses me

If there’s one thing that every teacher I know in America can agree on, it’s that the standardized testing craze in this country has gotten out of control.

Everything is about the test, the test, the test. In just about every state educators spend months and months drilling young minds in preparation for what’s allegedly the most important exam of the year, some variation of a test showing how far the student has come in basic skills like math, reading and writing.

Except that’s pretty much all teachers have time for. We’re building a nation of zombies, filled with people who can just recite facts and only know what’s on the test they’ve been preparing for.

It’s ridiculous that learning to tell time, or analytical thinking, has taken a back seat to “teaching to the test.”  Teachers’ hands are tied, and in many cases their worth as teachers is inexplicably tied to how well their class does on this one test.

The kids, too, are under unbelievable pressure; my wife had a kid in her third-grade class a few years ago who literally gave himself an ulcer worrying about the pending FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test). And this was one of the smartest kids in the class.

So it was refreshing for me to read this week about teachers in England who are boycotting the nation’s standardized testing period, out of protest.

Seems the British educators feel that way too much focus has been put on these exams, at the expense of overall learning.

Good for them. I’d love to see American teachers do the same thing.

**OK, so I was watching TV yesterday morning and saw one of the most ridiculous commericals I’ve ever seen. It was for American Blue Tip water vapor cigarettes, and it had all these dressed-up men and women talking about how awesome it was to smoke, and yet not have stinky clothes and bad breath.

The dialogue was atrocious. The acting even worse. I can’t believe I can’t find this commercial online, but here’s a guy demonstrating the water vapor cigarette. (I love the music playing in the background, too)

I can’t believe this is a real product; it doesn’t give you any of the same affect of smoking, so if you’re a real smoker, who enjoys the nicotine and the feeling you get from smoking, why would this be a good alternative?

Why not just quit, if you’re going to go through all the trouble to suck in water vapor? How is that fun?

As you can tell, I’m just brimming with questions.