Friday, January 11, 2008

What was your boat project?

Now that contract negotiations are finished for 2 of our 3 groups, we can focus on the state and national issues that drain the joy from our careers. As difficult as contract negotiations were, the thought of renewing No Child Left Behind seems worse. What the preponderance of testing mandates and useless, late arriving, apples to oranges scores has done to our career was underscored by a story my husband told me the other night.

A colleague of his just ran into a former student. They recognized each other and the student said “Remember that boat-building project we did in 4th grade? I loved that project and now I’m in school to be an architect!” How many students are we going to hear say, “Remember that test prep we did? Now I’m working for Education Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey!”

Our students remember experiences that taught them something: something about themselves, how to think, how to collaborate. You don't remember the Gadsden Purchase unless it happened to fall on your birthday.

I hope teachers still have time to do "boat projects" with their students every year, and I hope they get to hear about the impact of their work. My plan is to make sure that this story is shared as a way of reminding all those adults hovering over the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind that they had boat projects that meant something to them, too.

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