The Coring of the Six Hundred (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Row on row, row on row,

Row on row stationed

Sick at their monitors

Sat the six hundred.

“You may now type your Username”

Said the test proctor.

Set up for failure

Sat the six hundred.

 

“Enter your password key!

“Mercy upon you!

“During the testing

“No one can help you.”

Someone had blundered.

The unspoken truth. But

Theirs was not to make reply,

Theirs was not to reason why,

Theirs was but to do or die,

Theirs was but to try and cry.

Set up for failure

Sat the six hundred.

 

Text to the right of them

Complex, out of context,

Bubbles in front of them,

Plausible answers,

Tricky and tortured,

Boldly they bubbled and well

Though smack in the mouth of hell

Sat the six hundred.

 

This is what reading means,

Now that Gates/Pearson

Has reified testing

Far beyond reason.

Pearson not persons.

Plutocrats plundering

Taxpayer dollars

Spent to abuse.

The children are used.

They bubble and squirm

To reveal their stack ranking

And never again

Will know joy in learning

Never again

Humane joy in reading

And writing, no never again,

Not the six hundred.

 

Text to the right of them

Complex, out of context,

Bubbles in front of them,

Plausible answers,

Tricky and tortured,

Boldly they bubbled and well.

Gritfully slogging through hell

Sat the six hundred.

 

When shall their innocence,

Innate curiosity,

Joy in their learning

Ever return?

This never shall be.

Theirs is to gritfully

Show the obedience

Proper for proles,

Their preordained role

In the New Feudal Order.

Standardized children

Standardized minds.

Common, not great,

Though sufficient to serve

The ends of the state.

Lost to themselves

And the fruits of their labors.

Honor this children’s crusade.

Honor the price they paid.

Remember when they played.

Our once-young six hundred.

Copyright 2012, Bob Shepherd. This piece may be freely reproduced as long as it is reproduced in its entirety, without alteration, with attribution to its author, and with this copyright notice.

For more pieces by Bob Shepherd on the topic of Education “Reform,” go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/ed-reform/

For more pieces on the teaching of literature and writing, go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/teaching-literature-and-writing/

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About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
This entry was posted in Ed Reform, Poetry, Teaching Literature and Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Coring of the Six Hundred (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

  1. …which is the main reason why we home school our kids! Theirs was not to reason why, but bless them, they did anyway (the deciding moment came when my son, now 19, came home from school one day when he was in the 6th grade, and with tears of frustration in his eyes, told me, “School is getting in the way of my learning”), and certainly taught me a thing or two!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Bob Shepherd: The Six Hundred, a Riff on Tennyson | Diane Ravitch's blog

  3. Roy Turrentine says:

    Loved this satire. I think I would have referenced the 529.34672 instead of the 600.

    Liked by 1 person

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