National Parks and Education

This afternoon I will be attending Andrew Jackson – American Hero or Scoundrel? at Moccasin Bend National Archeological District.

National Parks have been called “America’s Best Idea.” I tend to agree. I have taken Zari on two epic National Park road trips, one to Las Vegas and back and the other to North Dakota and back, along with many weekend trips to National Park Service sites within easier striking distance. You can learn much about the world from books and online, but there are some things you just can’t really understand unless you actually visit.

I remember one day that we started at Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming, where we learned about life at a frontier fort and trading post. After a visit to Guernsey State Park, where we learned about the CCC and saw Oregon Trail Ruts, I took Zari to visit Wounded Knee. We listened to a Lakota man explain the Wounded Knee Massacre and looked at his album of pictures and articles about it. We could see how, over a hundred years later, that event still affected the lives of the Lakota. You don’t get that personal touch from a book.

Zari in the Oregon Trail Ruts at Guernsey State Park

Zari in the Oregon Trail Ruts at Guernsey State Park

Going out and seeing places, touching things, and talking with people is a much better way of learning than being stuck in a classroom all day. It’s probably the main reason I moved to get Zari into the zone for Normal Park Museum Magnet School. However, this past couple of weeks have not been good for Normal Park. Last week, we were notified that the big Atlanta museum trip would be cancelled because the TNReady fiasco caused the testing to be moved to that day. Yesterday, we learned that the testing would be moved again to the following week, meaning that the cancellation was for naught and, even worse, another trip will be cancelled as a result.

I’m not particularly happy with livid about TNReady right now. Testing should not detract from education, and that is precisely what it is doing. The system is failing our children, and the only reason it is failing is because politicians are more concerned with data they can use against teachers, schools, and districts than they are about actually making sure our kids get taught what they need to learn.

Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Chattanooga, Education

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