These words were bellowed to the crowd by Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator after he graphically destroyed every opponent that was put before him in the arena. His words, aimed at the audience, were meant to show his disgust at what was sacrificed at the expense of their entertainment.
I can’t help but think that if I close my eyes, and imagine a voice with a little less bass, that these same words could be spoken by many educators across the country. You see, I feel like many educators feel as if they are jumping through hoops simply to entertain those that hold the purse strings and make the rules. This is the time of year when many educators are preparing their students for a test, administering a test, or simply trying to get their students back into a routine since testing has taken up so much of their valuable time.
Like Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator, educators do not really have a choice. They must put on a show. Preparing their students for states tests is not an option for them. While their lives don’t depend on the results, their jobs often do. And unfortunately, so does their self-esteem.
This is not to imply that teachers aren’t successfully preparing their students for the tests that they must take each year. Because they are. In fact, many teachers have become quite skilled at this art. But at what cost? Does a high test score mean that a student is ready and prepared for the world they are about to encounter? Or is a high test score often nothing more than just a number? I submit that oftentimes it is the latter. I truly believe that life’s most important tests do not require a pencil.