Students are kids, not robots

January 3, 2013 

I was deeply troubled while reading "Delhi teachers willing to tie earning to learning" (Dec. 30, Page B-1) specifically the box "About the Evaluations". As a teacher of 22 years and as a parent, this was a very concrete example of how far education has moved in the wrong direction.

During a classroom observation, the following was observed: "at least 14 seconds in attention" was lost in distributing worksheets. "Three students daydreamed except when Teacher ABC walked by them."

Wow. I understand that the point being made was that objective data paints a more valid, quantifiable portrait of that lesson. But what struck me was that someone was actually tracking and counting the 14 seconds that it took for students to pull out their worksheets. And students not engaged in reading, writing, or looking at the teacher were "daydreaming," which is obviously anti-productive.

So is this how we're going to improve our "failing" schools, by treating our kids like robots whose productivity can only be measured by observable time on task? Did it occur to those who put together these observation methods that maybe what appeared to be daydreaming might have been the internalization of thought or reflection? How often are adults in the workplace expected to account for every second of their workday? And we're actually paying people to collect and track this data?

LAURA MANN

Turlock

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