I have met so many teachers who are so wise about teaching, about students, and about what really needs to be done to make schools work better. One of them is Arthur Goldstein, an experienced English teacher in New York City. His students are mainly English language learners. As his longtime fans know, he teaches in a trailer, which is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. He has a blog called nyceducator.com. It is sharp, incisive,fearless, and often laugh-out-loud funny.
I got a comment from Arthur this morning to my earlier post. Arthur asks the right questions and shows how dumb current “reform” policies are.
The state has an underlying assumption that test scores are representative of quality of instruction. I would argue they do not. A role model, sorely needed by kids whose parents work 200-hour weeks, would and should do more than show a kid how to pass a standardized test. In fact, my experience with standardized tests suggests that I’m better able to write meaningful tests for my own students. Now I’m not bragging, because the quality of standardized tests I see ranges from abysmal to “meh.”
It’s preposterous for teachers to be lectured on differentiated instruction when the tests are all the same and the only thing that matters. As a teacher, I know when I’m at my best. I’m at my best when left alone to do whatever it takes to teach my kids what’s important, and I know very well what’s important to English language learners, as well as what they will need to avoid taking zero-credit remedial courses when they enter college. From all I’ve seen, the state and city governments haven’t got the remotest clue.
Teaching is an act of seduction. It’s about making kids love what you’re selling, which is education, their future. The obsession with testing is destroying that. The notion that a teacher can be judged on a test which is likely to be total crap is absurd, and it’s remarkable we even need to discuss it.
It is teachers like Arthur Goldstein who are the best answer to the dilettantes, foundation executives, hedge fund managers and corporate executives who love to decry and shred their garments over “teacher quality.” (Actually, I speak metaphorically, they don’t shred their garments, they just decry.) The difference between him and them is that he knows what he is talking about. It comes from experience. It is the wisdom of a teacher.