April 12, 2007

Tapping toes and teaching to tests

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math. Forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers. Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test. ...

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.
from the new song, Not on the Test, by Tom Chapin & John Forster

Tom Chapin put his latest song, Not on the Test, on his website recently, since it's not out yet on CD, and according to Chapin probably won't be anytime soon. Thanks to Camille at Book Moot for the information and the link to yesterday's School Library Journal interview with Chapin, which calls Not on the Test a "funny, satirical song". From the interview:
John Forster, who is my wonderful collaborator, and my other friend, Michael Mark, and I have written over the years for National Public Radio; so I got together with John Forster one day and said, "Let's come up with some ideas." We bounced around things; and one of them, we felt, was a hot item—both of us being parents and having had kids in public school: how testing has become this huge thing. ...

So what do you think of NCLB and all the attention on testing?

The real thing is how it's changed the experience of school. I know teachers who have stopped teaching because they just are no longer allowed to do what delights them and what delights the kids.

What's your message to the Bush administration?

[Testing] doesn't work. It's the corporatization of education.
The SLJ article also mentions Chapin's audiocassette giveaway: "We have a roomful of cassettes. My assistant [Claudia Libowitz at Sundance Music] came up with the idea that, since we're not selling these anymore, and since a lot of schools still have cassette players, what better thing to do with them than get them to teachers. So, if you're a teacher or librarian and would like some free Tom Chapin cassettes, as long as they last, e-mail us." That would be info at Tom Chapin dot com. The offer is good for the U.S. and Canada, and includes a small shipping free. More info at the website.

Tom Chapin music, especially free Tom Chapin music, is not to be sneezed at. Some of our favorites, for children and for adults, which I'd buy again at twice the price, include Around the World and Back Again, Doing Our Job, Moonboat, Family Tree, and Some Assembly Required.


And, by the same SLJ writer, Joan Oleck, these articles, Chronic Reading Problems Linked with Depression (last week) and Study: Kids' Crucial Learning Period Extends beyond Year Three (yesterday). Who knew?

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