Thursday, April 10, 2008

Disturbing School Bulletin Boards

I was at an elementary school in Queens today. A very nice and new building and brightly decorated school. There are bulletin boards EVERYWHERE in the hallway. It makes the building look like a nice place to go to school.

Today, I took some time to actually look at the bulletin boards, and ended up being very disturbed.

Student work is displayed on each bulletin board. However, not all student work is displayed, only some. For each project, only about 6 examples of student work were displayed. It was pretty apparent that these were only the "best" examples.

Even worse, on each paper/poster/art project was a post-it with the students' grade - from 1 to 4, along with comments from the teacher. The only work that I saw displayed was at "Level 3." Oh, and if you don't know what Level 3 means - don't worry! There's a detailed rubric beside each bulletin board with the assessment criteria.

So what are we saying?
We only put up examples of completed work that fits the "standards" of our hegemonic system. You worked hard, but you didn't get at least a 3? Sorry, your work isn't important, because only the product matters -- not the process.

This made me very sad.

Who are these bulletin boards for?
Shouldn't bulletin boards be for students? I'm not sure what third grade student is going to sit and read the 1-4 rubric beside each board. And I'm pretty sure the students whose work is discarded and not worthy of the bulletin board won't have much interest.

It's great to show student work. But does the fact that we are afraid to show most student work tell us something about the school? And about how they perceive education?

1 comment:

LH said...

A friend of mine sent me this comment:

At the beginning of the year, they give a list of criteria for bulletin boards. Fortunately, my school is pretty lax with enforcing this, but technically work displayed in the hallway is supposed to be ERROR FREE. THis means if the child has an error in his/her paper, he has to go back and re write the paper or it doesn't get hung up. I know a girl who was actually encouraged by her principal to erase what the child had written incorrectly and change it herself in pencil!