Standardized Testing: A Form of Oppression?

Standardized testing is an often talked about, controversial topic in the education world. Some are in favor of standardized testing, saying that it is a way to better understand a school’s performance. Others, on the other hand, view it as the opposite. Prior to joining the education program, I had no opinion at all on standardized testing. I completed these tests throughout my school career, and still did not consider how they were affecting me as a student. Since coming to the U of R, I have formed a very strong opinion on the subject, as have many of my fellow colleagues. My opinion now is that I strongly disagree with standardized testing.

Throughout our time in the faculty of Education, my colleagues and I have learned so many beneficial practices to take into our future classrooms. So far, all of these practices centre on seeing each child as an individual person. This means implementing practices that do not discriminate based on race, gender, age, or ability level, and celebrating all students for the capable learners that they are. Inquiry, exploration, and play based learning are popular topics in class. We are taught to be inclusive to all, and teach each child based on their learning styles and strengths. I believe that the practices I have learned while at the U of R have been fundamental in shaping who I am as a future educator, and I also believe that standardized testing goes against every single one of these practices.

Standardized testing does not focus on the learner. It uses one form of testing to judge every student, regardless of outside circumstances. It enables students to believe that if they cannot complete the test, they are not capable. It does not focus on multiculturalism or inclusiveness. I could go on and on about the reasons I do not believe in standardized testing. If there are so many downsides to standardized testing, then why is it still happening?

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The Heart of a Teacher

“The Heart of a Teacher: Identity and Integrity in Teaching,” by Parker Palmer, is a must read for all educators and future educators. The article really made me consider what makes a successful teacher. It is not the students or content that make teaching difficult, but realizing that one’s identity shapes their teaching. Luckily, identity is also what can make a teacher successful. When teachers are able to critically examine their inner beliefs, thoughts, and ideas, they are able to bring their identity into their teaching and actually enjoy the content they are teaching about. The article defines this identity as “the teacher within.” Our students will not remember the teachers that stood at the front of the room, lecturing in a monotone voice about content that they felt detached from. They will remember the ones who were passionate about their subject matter; the ones who felt a genuine internal connection to the content and their students.

Reconsidering My Autobiography

During Katia’s lecture on March 3rd, my classmates and I were posed with the question “What hidden messages are now visible to you in what you could offer as your autobiography?” When Kumashiro says that “we need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives,” he is urging us to look at our own experiences and views and how they may have been influenced by things like race, sexuality, and gender. When writing my autobiography, I did not touch on any of these things because I felt like they hadn’t influenced me. I only considered the way that the experiences I have had and the people around me had influenced me. When Katia posed the question in lecture I initially disagreed with her because I did not feel like these things are what make me who I am. However, after taking some time to reflect on the question, I realize that by not touching on things like race, sexuality and gender in my autobiography, I was ignoring the fact that they may have helped shape the experiences that I wrote about. I am a white, heterosexual, middle class female, and because of this I have been given certain privileges throughout my life. By not writing about these things, I ignored this privilege. I think this type of ignorance is common because privilege based on things like race, gender, sexuality, and social class is a form of what Katia described as “troubling knowledge.” People know it is there, but do not want to think about it. If we are striving to be anti-oppressive educators, we need to understand that this troubling knowledge exists, and educate others about it.