Overall, jury duty was rough on me, despite a lovely view of Commencement Bay and 1.5 hour lunches. I'm not used to sitting all day or keeping quiet when something perturbs me. One would think it'd be a relaxing change of pace - and it was, for about one day. I found myself feeling stressed and anxious about being away from my classroom and generally annoyed at the slow pace of the trial. Needless to say, I'm thankful I could return to work today and get back to business as usual.
And, because I love to turn any experience into an educational one, here's a list of skills and strategies that I routinely teach and also observed in court:
- walking in a straight line
- telling the truth
- letting one person talk at a time
- being patient
- listening to both sides of an argument without judgement
- drawing conclusions
- determining an author's purpose
- cause and effect
- supporting an argument using text-based evidence
- using persuasive writing techniques
- SO MUCH MATH (addition, subtraction, multiplication, estimating, fractions, measurement, area, perimeter, constructing tables, elapsed time)
- Measuring and recording data
- Observing and describing results from an investigation
Around the third day, I realized how similar the arguments were to those currently being debated in education reform. Was the test subjective or objective? Who made the test in the first place? Could the results be measured over time and replicated? If one board was damaged, did that mean all of the boards were damaged? How did the outside environment affect the conditions of the siding? Did the witnesses possess enough knowledge and/or training to effectively state their opinions? Was there room for interpretation on the warranty? And so on...
If anything, six days of jury duty got me thinkin' out the current state of our educational system. When does a teacher's professional judgement overrule a students' measurable data on a test? What amount of training does a teacher need to have in order to be considered "qualified?" Does it make sense to look only at the measurable data of a standardized test when other factors are obvious to the naked eye? If a small group of students fails, does that mean the rest are doomed, as well? What role does a students' outside environment play in his or her outcome on a test. How much money is being spent on all of this?
I don't know the answers to these questions, nor am I even going to try to answer them. Clearly, you can see my brain was busy during my