Writer’s Block: Passion Is Not a Dirty Word

writers-block-200x200by Corinne Wnek

Most students in New Jersey are coming off a long weekend, thanks to the New Jersey Education Association’s annual teacher’s convention. Cynics say, “What? More time off for teachers”? Teachers say, “Let me see what I can bring back to my classroom”, and students say “Yippee! No school”. 

As a former educator, I readily admit to living for this week end when I could converse with other professionals who also knew how tough it was to be an educator in a state that is consistently ranked at the top for high performing students but is still bashed by parents and our Governor. It seems teachers have it too easy and they need to be held accountable. But for what?

The disturbing trend to test students every couple of years as a measure to see what they have learned is the proverbial elephant in the classroom. Linking a teacher’s salary and evaluation to that result is a real killer as well for both the student’s success and the teacher’s potential to maximize their student’s potential. Here’s my question.

Whatever happened to passion in education? Whatever happened to getting kids excited to learn, period? We have become so preoccupied with ‘results’ and ‘standings’ that leaders in education have forgotten how and why students learn. When a teacher can’t feel free to excite students about a topic they are teaching because they won’t be able to ‘cover curriculum’, something is wrong.

The more educators feel they must meet a ‘standard’ set by the government to demonstrate success in their classroom, the more we teach to a test and kill excitement for learning in the classroom. Teachers go into education because they want to set kids on fire, not because they are going to get rich.

Here’s what I say: Throw out the rules. Let’s hear it for teachers who get kids excited to learn, whatever the outcome. Passion for teaching, and for getting kids to buy in to learning, should be the only standard we use for measuring classroom success.

After all, education has never been a one size fits all arena.

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