In response to this post which I linked to on a mailing list I’m on, I recieved this reponse from a public high school teacher.
I looked over your reading list and chuckled. I had to read most of these
same things in college. The irony of this is that NOW, my high school kids
have these same selections in our anthology and are expected to handle this
material just as I did in college. I think sometimes we are pushing our
kids too far, too fast. This is a problem with states where testing is the
end all, be all marker for education. Now it’s hard to get my kids to read
at all because they were so burnt out in middle school.
I understand where this teacher is coming from. The class that I took this quarter was marked as a sophmore level college course for a reason. You have to have some understanding of literature and how to interpret older language style into modern day terms just to be able to understand it. Expecting high school juniors and seniors to read this material is just insane.
Standarized testing is not something that I am overly fond of. I think that it has its place and its purpose as a guide for how well students are retaining what they are learning, but they cannot be the end all be all measure of how well they are performing. Testing places a large amount of pressure on students. It pushes them beyond their boundaries and out of their comfort zone. A student that knows the material well in the classroom setting will often hear the word “test”, and everything that you wanted to know about that student to use as an indicator of teacher performance just goes right out the window.
There has to be a better way.
Even more than that I am concerned that high school students are being pushed too hard in some cases, and not enough in others. My local school district is not at the top of my list for being well-thought out in terms of what they teach the children.