Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Let Them Act Out: Having to Constantly Drill for Tests, Students Are Being Kept from Performing in Ways That Would Reveal the Best They Have to Offer

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Let Them Act Out: Having to Constantly Drill for Tests, Students Are Being Kept from Performing in Ways That Would Reveal the Best They Have to Offer

Article excerpt

"I KNOW WHAT IS WRONG with our education system!" I cried out to my cat Taco, who was seated on my lap, and to the mountains outside my window, which, usually enshrouded in clouds, were making a surprise March appearance. Taco was unimpressed; she had heard such declarations before, made with similar gusto. Like many of us in education, I see "the problem" often, and leap to a solution. Maybe our leaping to so many solutions is the problem, but that is for exploration in another column.

This latest epiphany of mine was prompted by a recent New York Times Magazine article. While the cover story on "Should Boys and Girls Be Taught Separately?" was interesting, what got me thinking was a piece by Virginia Heffernan on the 25th-anniversary DVD of the great 1982 movie Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman as a man who tries to pass himself off as a woman in order to land a part on a soap opera.

In the article, Heffernan talks about acting as an avenue for moral responsibility. She describes how "performance, in front of recording devices, [is] the only way that the characters in Tootsie can learn to be good." She repeats one of Hoffman's memorable lines, spoken to Jessica Lange's character, which brings the point home: "I was a better man with you, as a woman, than I ever was with a woman, as a man."

Heffernan says the message is one that can be seen in the work of "actors" on reality shows and YouTube clips, who also can't act virtuously unless they are being filmed. She says the presence of all those cameras recording their every move and utterance forces them to be moral. …

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