AMIDST THE TEST: THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF TEACHING "UNDER" NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
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In this hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry I explore the lived experience of public school teachers teaching amidst the federal law entitled No Child Left Behind.
My research question wonders, "What is the lived experience of teaching under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)? My exploration relies heavily upon the work of Ted Aoki, Edward Casey, David Jardine, William Pinar, Hans George Gadamer, and Martin Heidegger. Van Manen's (2003) hermeneutic phenomenological research activities provides the framework for my methodology.
Eleven public school teachers were engaged in individual and group conversations to bring forward the lived dimension of teaching amidst NCLB. The rendering of the audio taped conversations suggests a place in teaching akin to illness. These themes yield insight into teaching amidst a testing culture focused on data. Participants reveal how the myopic focus on test results creates a looming feeling within schools as they wait for results from the state assessments. As a consequence, students are color-coded in a non-human way as the colors of red, blue and green. This encourages teaching prescribed scripts within a narrow margin.
Reflecting on this dis-ease in teaching, as suggested by these themes, calls for a refocusing and re-languaging of teaching and learning in American public schools. I propose a refocusing of education in three divergent directions. The first is a focus "down" into the classrooms, i.e., more intensely with where students, teachers and communities thrive. The second is a focus on the whole of teaching in relation to the parts. Finally, I call for a focus on the unique which will enable playing outside boxes, a curriculum of discovery and a suspension in the current belief system entrenched in test-focused technical language