For example, one of my students really got pysched about probability and Googled it to find out more. He found some link that told him actuaries are applied mathematicians who use probability. He remembered that his neighbor had said that this was what he did, but at the time, my student had no idea what that was. Now he was pumped and immediately went over to the neighbor's house and started asking questions. One thing led to another and pretty soon the actuary had agreed to come into my class and do a mini-case study with my students. The case study completely intrigued them because it was about a silo blowing up and middle schoolers love anything that blows up. For about 4 days, this gentleman came to my 2nd and 3rd hour classes and worked through the study with my kids explaining all sorts of probability and sharing photos from the actual real life situation. I'll bet at the end of the year (which was about 4 months later) I still had 4 or 5 kids who wanted to be actuaries when they grew up.
Would never happen now. Can't afford the time because not much of what this neighbor shared is on the test.
What I did is a good thing for those that try and take the long run view. It's good to have kids curious about how math ties into their "real life". Unfortunately now, that's not possible. Because if you have a bunch of motivated kids they'll start bringing in more and more stuff to investigate. It does mean that you have to know your math because it's your job, no matter how far afield it gets, YOU have to tie it back to what the curriculum wanted you to do. But it was possible and it was GOOD for the kids.
Now you'd never be able to give up the time. You have to stick to the test prep schedule from August until mid-March. It's just pressure, pressure, pressure to drill and kill on these tiny pieces of math processing.
The Tempered Radical: The Monster You've Created. . ..
My colleague is experiencing the same thing except it's in language arts. It's demoralizing for those of us that love teaching and want our students to fall in love with our content areas. They can't fall in love if we're not pushing them in the right directions. And unfortunately we'll lose more and more teachers from the tested content areas because it's just too awful to endure anymore.
Who thought this system was good? Who thinks we should collect even more data so we can make this system even more complex and demoralizing? Who thinks that any test that a state government will create will come close to making school a place where you soar and think out of the box like my student did with probability?