Swickard: Schools becoming vast educational wastelands

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. I cannot understand why when people become educational administrators they forget the enterprise of education is supposed to be centered on children. It is not in today's world and educational administrators are unable to grasp why schools have become vast educational wastelands.
     Question: should students enjoy school? Like most discussions the problem is understanding the word, "Enjoy." Research to the contrary, most modern administrators are afraid of being criticized for students enjoying the day.
     I was at an elementary school some time ago where there were two types of teachers. One type was the kind gentle teachers who looked at and thought about each child individually. They try to make the educational experience the best it can be for each student.
      Balance that with the new breed of teachers who are just trying to show off to the administration by proving that they teach with RIGOR! That is the new buzz word, rigor. It means teachers use what some people call "Tough Teaching" and do not worry in the least that students may not like what they are experiencing.
      The teachers who center on rigor make sure no child enjoys any moments during the day because if they do then the teacher is being too easy on them. These rigorous teachers, supported by rigorous administrators never consider the feelings and emotions of students. The more students hate every moment of school, the better these educators feel. But that is completely contrary to research.
     At this school during Christmas time one teacher's class was singing songs while the teacher helped the students make presents for their mothers. In short, this classroom was buzzing with interested students. The other classroom was silent and very depressed because often they did not even get recess since to show rigor that teacher, with the support of the administration would skip recess.
     As I was standing there in the gleeful classroom a student from the other classroom walked by, looked in and spoke mournfully. He said, "Hi Mr. Snowman," to a full-size Frosty the Snowman. I wanted to go bring him into the circle but I was just an observer of instructional practice.
     Every teacher this year says that they are instructed to keep students pointed toward cheating the accountability tests by practicing the specific answers. Students do not find this interesting. They detest school and everyone in it. A few teachers keep trying to blow life into this aberrant style of education and they are uniformly smacked around by the administration who only care that their schools score better. Read full column