What IF…?

What if we resisted?

What if schools stood up, one by one or collectively, and said NO?  What if someone threw a standardized test party and no one showed? What if school leaders said out loud what we all know — that the tests are damaging to our students, that taking TWO WEEKS to give standardized tests — TWO WEEKS during which very little other teaching goes on, TWO WEEKS of mind-numbing, empty time, TWO WEEKS during which teachers, who must administer tests cannot grade, cannot read, cannot do ANYTHING else while they are administering the test — are TWO WEEKS better spent doing something else? Teaching, say?

What if we just said no?
No, we won’t give the tests. No, we won’t buy into the idea that all students know the same things, that all students learn at the same rates, that all students are the same, should take the same course of study?

What if we started to envision schools in a radically new way? What if we decided that schools were meant to be the place for young people to discover their passions, to cultivate their talents, to discover? What if we acknowledged that true education isn’t tied to a job, that learning isn’t meant to be training?

What if we stopped doing what we’re “supposed to do?” Stopped being dutiful? What if we did what we know is right for kids?


Back when I was a young teacher, I used to resist a lot. Now, as I get older, it gets alternately harder and easier — harder mostly because of fatigue. I just don’t have the energy I used to. But easier because I care less about what people think. OF course I need the job– I can’t simply quit — but I feel less vulnerable in some ways, more able to speak my mind, more able to see what matters. I can’t help but think of Emerson and Thoreau and about the poets of the Harlem Renaissance. About the calls for resistance, the calls NOT to conform, the calls to stand up for what is true and right.

Of course, I am also thinking about Baltimore and those citizens who can no longer be silent, who feel pushed to explode, who are screaming SEE ME, HEAR ME. I want to say: in some small, tiny way I get that. So much happens because we let it, because we don’t say ENOUGH, because we do what we are told, because we don’t resist.

2 thoughts on “What IF…?

  1. Frederick Lipp

    Hi Patty,
    When I was in the third grade during the war years, I had no power to say NO to a teacher who kept me after school for thrashings with a stick across my knuckles. WHY? Because I was challenged by reading performance tests in the classroom. Her stick was the consequence of my poor performance. She kept me back for an extra year! In those days of my slow reading, reversed spelling of words, etc. where they were called “not paying attention”, “not trying” or the measure of innate “ignorance.” Now after writing books for third graders and one actually being selected for the reading comprehension tests used in public schools I have sweet revenge. My actions through graduate schools and founding a non-profit to educate girls in Cambodia – http://www.cambodianscholarship.org and life in the ministry were my NO to abuse. Patty, your life and wisdom has an energy for transformation for students – “actions speak louder than words” – Thoreau and Emerson lived this..so are you.
    In friendship,
    Fred Lipp lippfrederick@gmail.com


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