Friday, September 26, 2014

Suppose Sunday School taught to the Test

The memories!
It’s PSSA result season as we anxiously await to see how well are schools are measuring up to government education standards in their effort to not leave any kid behind.

Parents, raise you hand if you’re really sitting on pins and needles awaiting the results.

Disguised as a measurement of student attainment and achievement, we all realize that these results put more focus on the schools and their employees than they do the students they serve. 

To prove this point, I’ll admit that I’ve never heard a parent introduce their child as an advanced proficient 5th grader. She’s just a fifth grader. Yet, I have heard people introduce their friend as that teacher that got fired from that school because of their low test scores. 

Christine Flowers got me all fired up again with her Friday column in the Daily Times. She talks of her great kindergarten experience where cupcakes and singing took a back seat to #2 pencils filling in little ovals. She goes on to offer opinion on tests and their effects, but the mention of religious education caught my attention.

I sort of forgot that most of my childhood education was in religious schools. From the Quakers in Media to the Catholics in Chester on 2nd and Norris followed by more Catholics at Archmere Academy (before pulling my version of a Shawshank Redemption and escaping to Chester High in 11th grade) I was deeply rooted in faith based education.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Flowers when she writes,
…not everyone wants to send their children to a faith-based school, and that’s perfectly fine. But there is a certain amount of grace that comes when you infuse the daily learning experience with an appreciation for God…
After being out of options after Georgia Tech and Penn State wouldn’t accept me, I literally cried my way to Villanova just to start college on time. I expected to receive four years of college level Catholic Sunday School and I wasn’t happy, especially because I’m a Baptist.

I would soon learn that I could get through all 4 years never being required to step into that beautiful church that sits on the Villanova campus, although I did walk through once out of curiosity. More surprisingly, I learned that those required religion course electives were an easy A, a lot of fun, and extremely diverse. 

I may have forgotten how to solve a problem using the Laplace transform but I’ll never forget the religion professor who taught an entire class while sitting in a trashcan and smoking a cigarette in order to keep our attention. I surely can’t dope a transistor or discharge a capacitor any more, but I can recall the passion of having a black Villanova professor teaching us African Traditional religions. 

When I look at my home library, there’s not a single engineering book in sight. However, three of those books from my Villanova religion classes are on display with my other favorite things.