Get ready for a rant.
My kids, like all public school kids in Michigan this week, are knee-deep in the MEAP, standardized testing to gauge how much money our schools receive from the state. Yippee.
If you know me at all, you know this is exactly why I am not a fan of mass education. Watch this. In our current educational model, the individual gets lost in managing the masses.
My kids are fine. They’re smart, they’re capable, they aren’t neglected. They shuffle along and play nice and listen to authority and generally get by just fine.
But they could do so much more if they were encouraged to fly.
Of course, we cannot do that in an educate-the-masses mindset. No, the only way we can measure success is by standardized testing that catches most of the kids in the middle. The ones on either edge, well, they may fall off or they may not, but if the majority are educated in some manner, who cares.
So the MEAP is the way to figure out what’s working and what needs to happen in order to do better. The teachers and administration halt all learning for a week or two (or three) to make sure everyone takes these tests. One of my son’s friends got a great nap after she finished her test yesterday.
There are no bathroom breaks, no talking, no looking out the window – just put your nose to the grindstone and get it done. There’s so much fear and frenzy around the MEAP, and none of it really helps my children specifically. It helps our school in a way…because we cannot (yet) do anything to change the system.
Change takes time, advocacy and persistence. I have little of any of those. So many other things grab our attention. So we send our children through the school systems available to us and make the best of it.
What is my alternative? I could send my kids to private school, where there is no MEAP because the money comes out of my pocket. No thanks. I’m not convinced that any private school would focus on my particular children any more than public school can. It’s still educating the masses. It’s still one authoritarian adult at the front of the classroom enforcing rules and systems to keep everything manageable.
I could homeschool – which in an ideal world, I love the idea of. But I don’t really want to do it. I love my work, I need to work and we all need a break from our kids. And our kids need a break from us.
I do believe, though, that the socialization of school is both good and incredibly bad for our kids. I have one kid in particular (and possibly three) who would fare so much better if mostly in the cocoon of the home with select social opportunities outside of it. No one needs seven hours of straight socialization with a bunch of same-age peers.
So yes, I’m ranting about the stupidity of the MEAP and the waste of time of my children taking tests that don’t help their own personal advancement or learning. Word on the street is that this is the last year for the MEAP and next year we’re supposedly getting the Common Core. From what I’ve read, that won’t be any better than what we already have.
The problem lies within the need to care for the needs of the collective. When you focus on the group, you lose the individual. It’s just common sense.
Doesn’t mean I have to like it.