Don’t Ever Walk Outside The Lines

The most fun I ever had as a teacher was when my classes got off topic. Often this was driven by some event in the news that caught the interest of my students and we would spend a few minutes of class time discussing, and maybe clarifying, what was going on. Sadly, according to CNN, teachers are finding less and less opportunity to take this detour despite their students’ renewed interest in current events following 9-11.

But as much as most teachers and many students want to discuss what’s making headlines, they say there’s less and less time in the school day to do so. Mounting pressure to meet state- and nationally mandated curriculum requirements and assessment tests means current events rarely get discussed thoroughly, according to many U.S. educators.

All good teachers try to "integrate these kinds of events and issues that come out of them into the mandated curriculum … because they want to respond to students’ questions," she said. "Yet they have high-stakes testing, they have mandates that they have to teach certain topics."

No Child Left Behind, in addition to imposing lots and lots of these "assessment tests", also requires that every child have a "highly qualified" teacher. Highly qualified should include the skill of knowing when it’s more important to go off road and explore something that may not be in the curriculum.