I am still basking in the glow of a very successful production of Hamlet, which I directed with a number of college and high school students. We had a great time, working through the summer to understand Shakespeare’s text more deeply and bring it to life more dramatically. The audience, including some very young children, were mesmerized for the almost four hour performance.
I wonder what we would have accomplished if 90% of my efforts had been directed towards meeting state standards in directing and documenting the accomplishment instead of helping my actors to achieve their best. Do sports coaches have to spend most of their time documenting how they meet state standards? When I coach basketball, I focus simply on my players and on the team. When I started coaching (and directing), I needed a lot of advice, which I sought from fellow coaches. I learned a lot from them, following some of their advice and adapting much more. As I have grown in experience, I have gotten better at coaching, and my players have benefited from it.
Does the current standards tyranny give plenty of room for experienced teachers to work? Does it benefit inexperienced teachers? Are we putting our teachers in strait jackets instead of letting them bring excellence out in their students? Perhaps teachers don’t look at the standards that way. When we are not sure of what we want to accomplish, being able to check off standards that someone else has set for us can be comforting. But I imagine most teachers believe they could do more good for their students if they were not overburdened by bureaucratic demands. ‘
Why don’t teachers unions fight the tyranny of standards? Why don’t they focus more on making the best possible environment for successful teaching?
Am I missing something? Do teachers really think the demands of standards improve their teaching?