Judgement Day is looming ahead. An apocalyptic moment when one faces all that he is and is judged on the inadequacies and taken for granted for all of his goodness, heart, and intellect. No, I’m not talking about some twisted notion of a god who some fear burns us for every wrong we’ve ever done.
I’m talking about standardized test time for students around the country.
And it’s not just students who get burned that day.
Teachers, your stake has been prepared and your fire has sparked. Every inadequacy of yours is about to be lit for all to see. The triumphs will be pushed aside. No matter the child with the absentee father who can recognize analogy at age 6 or the struggling child receiving his first ever perfect score on a Spelling test at age 10. It is a time to highlight your shortcomings, your greatest fears, your lack of desirability in a way meant to remind you of your place as a mere twig in the mighty edifice of schooling. Do you feel the heat?
You may say that standardized testing is meant to inspire us to be our greatest selves in the world of academia. No, it’s meant to highlight shortcomings; not praise your aspirations nor even your strengths. It’s a day to be judged. Ask those teachers who do attain ‘greatness’; those teachers whose test scores excel. They do it not out of love, but out of fear; as all judgement requires. They too burn at the stake. These teachers may be applauded for ‘achievement’, but they suffer a quiet death taking its toll privately. Night sweats pouring over benchmark scores, insomnia because of a technology glitch in class, and a mad rush to make up for those days when pep rallies sidetrack their lesson plans all mean greater pressure on an already fiery grave. And please don’t be envious of those teachers who do have high test scores. They pay the price privately and climb upon a hill where they are expected to remain or burn. It’s not an achievement but a reprieve; and they can see the torch coming from a distance.
Parents, don’t think you’re getting off the hook either. You are judged too.
“If only that parent would actually care about their child’s scores.”
“No wonder the kid is a mess.”
“My job depends on some parent who is never around.”
These are sad, but true thoughts or verbal expressions that run through the mind of a teacher, a principal, a system in disarray floundering to bring about the illusion of respectability through the blaze. The educational system may yell “fire”, but it’s actually arson. While it plays the fireman, it’s the one carrying around the matches.
Education needs to be burned at the stake.
Don’t worry. I’m not finished yet.
But the fire alarm has been pulled.
We have hope on the horizon. It will be found amidst the ashes. There is a glow, ever present after pain and destruction. Only through the purification can we look back on the wreckage as something we had to endure; to learn, and sift through what was left behind to find the real treasures. Only in truly coming undone do we find the gold that remains.
In the meantime, shake off the judgement. Refuse to be judged, refuse to judge others. Oh, they’ll surely try, but they can’t take away your soul if you don’t let them. Test scores are not who you are. You are clean.
See, the whole of judgement is that it’s an illusion. None of us mere mortals have the power. We can withdraw from the fire, loosen the bonds, and walk away singed yet stronger because we now see. The fire isn’t real. It only exists as a threat, a punishment directed against itself. The fire will eat itself alive until eventually it burns out. It’s a slow burn, but we can walk away and rebuild somewhere else.
Leave the firemen to fight the fires that destroy.
My love of learning has not been burned to the ground but purified; and I’m ready to rebuild.