As some of you will recall, I have blogged about and visited with Aaron Baldridge, the young AP Environmental Science teacher who created a class for seniors at the highly ranked Townview Center STEM magnet school in Dallas. Aaron has started putting out results from the course via his blog, and I encourage you to follow. These are the narratives, the student voices that are hard to objectively measure, but which any educator worthy of the calling will immediately recognize as the highest measure of what we are trying to achieve. Remember, these are not students who have had the privilege of private school education since kindergarten. These students represent urban America, and, thanks to teachers like Aaron, are being exposed to the kind of authentic provocation that will strengthen their futures.
Read excerpts here from student narratives about their family histories. And this blog contains remarkable student responses to the prompt: “What if tests challenged or pushed us toward things we were interested in rather than to answer questions that have already been answered? What would they look like and how would they be graded? Answer both questions with a particular focus on the first question.”
Here are a few teasers; go to Aaron’s blog to bookmark it and read the rest:
“What is smart? Is it knowing that if a question is asked then ‘this’ has to be the answer? Or is it knowing what I want out of life and knowing what steps I have to take in order to get there?” – nd
“Questions that have already been answered are necessary in order to spark interest in our hearts to pursue the subject or sadly bore us, dulling the flame of interest we so desire to pursue.” – me
“Students wouldn’t be rewarded with numbers on a paper, but with new aspirations, motivations, and the passions to discover and continue searching for new answers and new questions.” – cj
“Insanity is the product of innovation and if I continue to work at it, it becomes genius.” – el
“A test can be a obstacle in your path holding you back from your true interests and goals. There are already tests that challenge or push us toward things we are interested in, it’s called LIFE.” – jh
These thoughtful, insightful student comments remind me so much of those from my students in The Falconer class. All we have to do is get students to recognize what is at stake in owning their own futures, and these are the lights that they shine. Keep sharing, Aaron!