A sextet of chairs decorated by New Mexico-based educators were created to highlight the importance of allowing children time to learn outside the contexts of standardized testing.

By Brenda Álvarez at NEA Today:

The display served as a public awareness campaign to highlight subject areas that make a profound difference in the lives of students and that can’t be measured on a standardized test.

“We were losing so much instructional time, and the positive influence we were having on the kids was taken away because we were consumed with test prep,” says Grace Mayer [middle school art teacher and president of NEA-Santa Fe]. “Parents and the public needed to know how testing has turned our education world upside down.”

While talk around accountability and performance on a national level may sound appealing to parents, Mayer said in a statement, “… we wanted to remind people of what we could be doing in classrooms if we weren’t constantly testing.”

Six chairs were created, and each had a specific theme, such as art and music, nature, and unity. At the rally, the chairs were set in a reading-circle style to underscore how students could be surrounded with meaningful lessons that allowed for discovery, exploration, and experimenting, as well as learning about new people.

This story was originally published on June 10th, 2016.