Ways In Which Standardized Tests Can’t Account For Culture

Background: Yesterday my classes hit chapter 5 in The Outsiders. This is the chapter that features the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” While some of my students felt comfortable with the poem, many of them did not. I began walking them through what the characters were doing before the poem and then through each line. Some of the discussion that followed…

Me: What were Johnny and Ponyboy doing that brought the poem to mind?

Them: Watching the sunrise.

Me: Think about a sunrise. What colors do you think of?

Them: Pale pink! Baby blue! Black! PURPLE!

Me: Well, yes, in Alaska there can be a lot of purple in the sunrise, but let’s stick to what they might have been seeing where they are…


About how long does a sunrise normally last? (I asked, hoping to discuss the fleeting nature of a sunrise.)

Them: About….four hours?





Me, defeated: Okay, yes. In Alaska that’s true.

Scene two:

Me: Does everyone understand the reference to Eden when it says that “Eden sank to grief?”


Me: Okay, well, where else do you hear of Eden?


Me: Are there any other books that mention Eden?

One of them: I don’t know about a book, but I do know one place it talks about Eden.

Me: Awesome! Where?

Them: Assassin’s Creed!

Me: Oooookaaaayyyy. I can work with that.






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