"Back" to Basics...

There was a big bru-ha-ha yesterday for students in NJ who were TRYING to take the PARCC test (for those not in the "know" PARCC is standardized testing that MAY in the future be a requirement for passing in order to graduate from high school).  There's been a lot of backlash about the test and that's too much to get into here.  (After all my posts are usually only a couple of paragraphs, not book length.)  For PARCC or against, yesterday was a major failure as the on line system that administers the test had a "glitch" meaning that students couldn't log in.  (Not a problem back in my day of standardized testing when all you got was a test packet and two #2 pencils.) Since the test is SUPPOSED to show readiness for college and careers; maybe the company behind the assessment (a word I personally hate...it's a test, let's call it a test) should get some of those students who couldn't log in up to their headquarters and see if they could find and/or fix the problem/glitch.  (First kid to do it automatically gets an A+ in PARCC-ess and never has to take any standardized test again!)  Any student who could figure out this real world issue, is certainly prepared for college and a career.  But would this student be ready for the "real world?"

Forget college.  Forget career.  Both are important, but shouldn't school be preparing children for the real world?  For some college may be a part of that; and for other a career might be a part of it, but there should more to an education than that.  What they need to learn are things that will help them in real world situations.

For example, as much as I don't like math, numbers are part of our real world situation.  To make purchases we need to know how to add, subtract, multiple and divide.  I never understood word problems where one train is heading in one direction at "x" mph and another is going "y" mph.  But I do need to know how to calculate tax on an item.  I do need to know the proper amount to tip a server.  (How much if 15% of $47.52? What is 18% of same amount?)  What about pairing up students, giving them each a "salary" and "expenses" and have them work together to come up with a budget that they can live on.  "Real" math for the real world!

Reading and writing (or as it's called in my son's school:  Literacy), definitely important. While I'm all for reading and writing book reports or summaries, how about reading directions and following them to get a finished product?  (You could even incorporate math into it if the directions were for making a batch of cookies and the recipe had to be halved or doubled!)  How about writing instruction on how to do or make something?  Or how to write a resume and a thank you letter?

I don't want to omit subjects like history, science and foreign language...all of which are important.  I just think we could make everything more relevant and applicable to everyday life.  History is happening right before our eyes with upcoming US elections.  Science?  Heck NJ native Scott Kelly spent 340 consecutive days in space; there's a history and science lesson rolled into one for you.  Foreign language?  If we want our kids to really be prepared for college, career AND real world, knowing more than one language can definitely put you ahead of the pack! Least you think that music (instrumental and vocal), art and physical education aren't important for the real world, think again! Not necessarily "testable" subjects, but ones that have real world applications...

Which bring me to a new topic:  why DON'T we teach/educate  "things you might need in he real world"?  Teaching keyboarding skills (which would help with that standardized testing).  How to do laundry.  How to make toast!  How to change a tire. (Sure, you're saying these things could be/should be taught at home, but let's not assume anything!)

If we really want our children to be ready for the world and not "just" college or a career we need more than testing.  We need educating.  We have the professionals out there, shouldn't we be having them do what they do best?


  1. I will say our school district is good about some of that - the kids take "Home and Careers" in middle school where they have cooking units, sewing units, and money management - and even have to do a week's laundry for homework in 8th grade...but it is more of an intro and that is as far as it goes. My freshman is failing algebra this year and it's stupid, because he'll never use it again once he graduates unless he goes into a math-related profession (which won't happen). Yet it's required to graduate. And while we don't have the PARCC test, they do have "Regent's exams" which are required for graduation. It sucks. I totally agree with you that kids should be taught more about real world things...


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