Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paradise Lost: On data driven drivel

I am watching the shadows change 
as I spend hours on the latest conceit from Trenton, SGOs.

This was written last fall--you would think I'd learn to live.

The "pond"

I spent a chilly few minutes yesterday pulling out some elodea from the pond to take to school--each time I pull up a garland, I let it drip a bit over the pond, wondering about the lives of the critters found in each drop.

(I worry about the few drops that hit the ground.)

When I start to think I am losing my mind thinking about these critters, I peek at a drop or two under my microscope, and see, once again, the dance of foreign life doing familiar things.

That's enough data analysis to remind me why I teach.

If we're going to preach data-driven instruction, and use it to take us to the Holy Land, we need to agree on whose Holy Land matters. And my Holy Land includes the critters I kill every time I take a step.
The gargoyle guarding the pond.
If you're alive, it's impossible not to see ourselves in the living around us.
If we see ourselves in the living around us, we care more about the world.
The abstract has no meaning when torn from the earth.

Being alive is a big part of being human, though you'd be hard-pressed to see evidence of this in our data-driven world culture.

It's late October, the morning glories in the shadows stay open through the day.  The dead will be dancing in the shadows soon. The world freezes over, and our children are taught not to notice.

The morning glory knows.

Good thing, too--if the children could see what we're stealing from them, they'd never sit still long enough to take the PISA's, the HSPAs, the NJASKs, the PARCCs, the SATs, the AP exams..

I'm still naive enough to believe the point of education is to help young'uns find their paths to thoughtful, productive, and happy lives. There's plenty more data to be found at the edge of a pond than under the flicker of fluorescent lamps.

But this data-driven nonsense isn't about accountability, or data, or education at all.
So I will keep teaching and keep praying, both for children and for the critters found in a drop of pond water the children no longer know exist.

The last of the hops flowers

You cannot dance if you're thinking too hard (or at all) about the rhythm.

1 comment:

Kate T said...

We are reading a book in my class that is set in a graveyard - and the living and the dead dance together one night; the living don't remember it and the dead won't talk about it. My students and I talked about how we are disconnected from the solar year because we use electric lights, and that it may be easy to follow the moon's changes, but the sun also changes in the sky: how high up does it rise and how long is it in the sky. We talked of equinox and solstice, but as we talked I realized that the days that we still celebrate are the days that are the halfway points. Imbolc, Samhain and to a lesser extent Beltane and Lammas.

The long days make the last two less visceral, but this turn of the wheel of the year into the darkness and Imbolc's turn out of the darkness we can feel in our bones. So the danse macabre is all about life. I'm going to dance tomorrow and every day that I can. And I will try to not forget what is important.