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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pressure Cooker

I'm standing on my soapbox today for my slice of life.  This topic has been eating at me for a while now and I couldn't help but write about it.  It just came out.  

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I feel it.  I feel it building this year like a pressure cooker.  I hear it in comments from my colleagues.  I see it on the faces of fellow teachers I pass in the hallway.  I can’t get away from the feeling of content and deadlines being shoved down my throat.  I can’t get away from the notions of “we have to get the kids to do things faster/sooner/better.”  

Logically, I understand it.  I know that things change at the top and there is a trickle down.  I know that when you sit at the bottom of the educational mountain, the push down is going to stop there. Unfortunately, it seems that the trickle down has become more of a gushing, roaring river as it has cut a path down the mountain and found the way to my kindergarten doorstep.

While I may know how this works LOGICALLY, I feel very differently in my heart.  My heart knows that my students are only approximately 60 months old.  My heart knows that I can push the thinking of my students only so far, and more than that is useless.  My heart knows, as a teacher, I am should meet my students where they are as an individual and then guide them toward the next step.  However, the next step should not be expected to be a huge LEAP.  

It seems the expectation has changed.  Now I am expected to meet the children where they are and then SHOVE them toward where they “should” be.  It’s a game of tag gone awry…ready or not here it comes!

What happened to learning through play?  What happened to looking for the next step and guiding the child to discovery?  What happened to learning about child development and then using that knowledge to help determine what the child is ready for next?  When did “they,” whoever the decision-makers are, learn about what is best practice for teaching?  When did “they” learn about the developmental stages that a child grows through?  Most importantly, when did “they” learn what is best for children?

Learning and growing is like planting a seed.  A child is a seed that we plant in our kinder garden.  We give that seed the sunshine, water and nourishment that is needed for growth to happen but it will ONLY happen on the seed’s own timetable.  There is no pushing the agenda for a seed.  I cannot force a seed to sprout without light and water and nourishing soil any more than I can force a child to learn something the brain is not ready to accept.  I can use all the best techniques and spend time one-on-one with that child and put the best materials in the hands of the child, but if that child is not ready to take on the learning, it’s not going to happen.

This group of people who are the “they” are making decisions about things that they know nothing about.  I would like the opportunity to ask them to consider a few things.  When you need brain surgery, do you ask your neighbor to do it for you?  When you have a tooth that is painful, do you pull it out yourself?  Of course not!  We call upon the experts. 

Why are “they” not calling upon the experts to make educational decisions?  When did it become logical and appropriate to ask lawyers or businessmen to determine what should be taught in a classroom? Where is the professional respect for teachers?  I wonder what would happen if “they” went to the emergency room only to find out that their so-called doctor was really a plumber or a computer programmer?


  1. I can only imagine the destruction that this push for more and better and faster is causing in kindergarten. I see the effects on students who have given up in middle school, on students who have decided that reading and learning are stupid. Thank you for speaking out. If we raise our voices together, maybe we can stop the madness.

  2. Well said. We teachers all need to join in saying it.

  3. I wish "they" could read your post. Oh, that's right they were able to learn at the rate appropriate for them. When will the madness stop?

  4. I know, in my heart, that I rely on those teachers I work with to know what is best for "their" students. They know them well, and do what is best for them. I'm so sorry that you feel so pressed about this, Robin. I wish I could help in some way, but here's a big hug for you, for telling it exactly how it is! I hear so many saying this!

  5. Maybe next time "they" need assistance in an emergency room, only a teacher is available to assist them. Oh wait, teachers are not that selfish; a teacher would go out of her way to find a doctor!

  6. Perfectly stated. Perfectly right. :-(