We live in a time where data drives everything. We evaluate the success of schools based on test scores in reading and math (and sometimes, though rarely, science). Of course those subjects matter. It’s 10:20 in the morning as I write this and I’ve already done plenty of reading and math this morning. Those subjects matter – no question about it.
But if we try to convince ourselves that those are the only subjects that matter, we are doing a disservice not just to the teachers who teach them, but the students in those classes every day.
Whether you are talking about physical education, foreign language, music, art, technology, FACS, electives at high schools that I don’t know about, science, social science, or whatever other course I’m forgetting, THEY MATTER. The content matters. The skills taught in those classes matter.
There are no high stakes tests that measure that measure collaboration skills, but THEY MATTER.
There are no high stakes tests that measure public speaking skills, but THEY MATTER.
There are no high stakes tests that measure skills we need to get by everyday in life, but THEY MATTER.
There are no high stakes tests that measure global citizenship skills, but THEY MATTER.
There are no high stakes tests that measure the confidence a student feels, or the love they feel in a classroom, but THOSE THING MATTER MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
As teachers, we need to all chip in and support each other. My social science class has more reading and writing than it did a decade ago because students needed to see that writing wasn’t a language arts skill, it was a life skill. My language arts friends have returned the favor by adding texts that connect to history and geography in their book talks and curriculum. It helps them have more background knowledge in my class.
We want to educate the whole child – and that means helping them be a great reader, writer, mathematician, scientist, historian, artist, athlete, global citizen, family member, collaborator, producer, thinker and everything else that I’m forgetting. The only way to do that is to recognize that EVERY class matters.