Currently my district is proposing a new elementary schedule and while it has some great ideas in it, one things saddens me to no end; social studies and science would only get 30 minutes for one of them every day. So when I had the chance to tell the school board president how I felt about the proposal, this is what I wrote to her:
The sample schedule being proposed, while its intentions are noble, I believe it is detrimental to our students’ development as knowledgeable global citizens. As the world around us grows more test obsessed, our students have indeed become just numbers on a data wall. We no longer discuss their passions, we discuss their deficits and how we will test them some more to bring them up to speed. Yet the world does not create jobs for people who are only strong in reading and math, or even for students that are very good at taking tests. It creates lives for people who are curious and knowledgeable in many things, that want to be a part of something larger than themselves. Yes, reading and writing are foundations upon which we rest all of our other curriculum, but science is curiosity and social studies is awareness in its truest sense; knowing ones place and where one fits into the world. When we diminish our time in these subjects we are taking away the chance for students to discover themselves and their passion. We lose further sight of what school is intended to be; a place to cultivate ones interests, become well-rounded, and for learning to become a passion. We cannot selectively focus on things that will be tested at the expense of things that will not. I fear we will lose students interest and dedication if we go along with this schedule. There will not be much room to explore, discuss, or even question things that fall outside of our scripted math, reading, and writing programs. School continues then to be a necessary evil that all students must survive. And that will show up in our tests.
I have done my part, now I can only hope that they listen.