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The Numbers Game

Published by in Love ·
The Numbers Game
by Lin Northrup

Nobody asked the children
if they want to sit
in straight rows
labeled by numbers
that coldly
assess their worth.

Nobody asked the children
how they feel being lumped
into categories that count
some in and some out;
children sorted by numbers
that don’t notice
how they color
their world
with big ideas
that barely
fit the page.

Nobody asked them
what gifts they bring
to a world teetering on
the edge of transformation.
Their 21st century minds
have already leaped
far ahead of bureaucrats
busy keeping score.

But if you ask the children,
watch them turn
square rooms into
places where ideas
bounce off the walls,
where wise teachers
help children reach
far beyond a formula
that shrinks them
onto a spreadsheet
for public consumption.

The test-makers
failed to grasp
where the children
are taking us,
failed to see
what was right
in front of them –
curious, creative
thinkers wiggling
in their seats
waving their hands
shouting, “Wake up,
get ready, we’re
a whole new breed.”

You can try slicing
and dicing children
by numbers,
but test scores
will never glimpse
their dreams,
will never tell
you how they feel
when a teacher
helps them see
all they can be.

Filling out bubbles
in columns day after day
produces numbers,
but the balance sheet
will never reveal
the beauty inside the soul
of a child.

Their light is far too vast
to be measured by
narrow minds that think
in straight rows.

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