Here are a few new links that I've run across related to the #JoyOfLearning, or lack thereof. The first is an expansion on a piece I shared last week, by Laura Goodman, sharing a mom's perspective about her children's elementary school experience. The other two are both by teachers (cross-linked) spelling out their objections to homework in elementary school. These articles give me hope!
Laura Goodman: Expanding on her earlier article (which I shared last week), Goodman says: "For my peers in education, I wrote this article because I wanted to clarify that it isn’t a lack of good teachers that is causing our current education crisis. Good teachers are everywhere, and are working tirelessly to engage students; they are successful in spite of our current system, not because of it. The sentiments of teachers align very closely with the sentiments of students and parents on this subject... I wrote this article, not just about my children’s school, which is by all standards is above average, but about education in America in general. My kids are everyone’s kids; the learner that excels and the learner that struggles."
Me: Goodman's original article generate a lot of attention. Here's an ABC News piece about it, for example. In this new piece, she captures exactly what I've been thinking about in terms of my blog's new direction. My daughter goes to a "good" school with good teachers, and is only in kindergarten. It's not that we are directly facing the serious issues of a broken educational system. But ... I'm concerned for my daughter's future learning, and for the future learning of all kids in the US educational system, because I feel like in the system as a whole there's a focus on testing and homework and memorization, instead of on instilling a joy in learning and a creative, growth-oriented mindset.
Kristine Mraz: "We have our kiddos for 6 hours, if we can’t teach what we need to teach them in that time, we need to reflect on our own practice... Truth talk: Time is limited, ours and kids. Why waste it on something that doesn’t make that much of a difference any way?... Every year I set parents up with information about what will help their child become the best five year old they can be (or 6, 7, 8, year old): Schedule play dates, try to eat dinner together when you can, tell or read stories together.
Me: This post has a nice summary of the traditional arguments in favor of assigning homework to elementary school kids, and why these reasons do not hold up (with references). I especially likes Mraz's recommendations for parents, that instead of having kids do homework, they let them play and read and spend family time. In my heart, I know that this is the right thing.
Shawna Cooper: "how do we ever expect children to develop healthy habits and strong minds when they are being told what to do with their time the majority of the time?"...Instead of using homework to hold hostage students’ “out-of-school” time, let’s instead send children the message, by not assigning them homework, that we value what they want to do, what they want to know more about, and what they think about the world. And let’s find ways to support this."
Me: This is a great piece written by a teacher, with a strong emphasis on the fact that the time kids spend doing homework could be much more productively spent learning by exploring new ideas. I especially like the fact that she discusses the difference between unstructured time (good) and unsupervised time (probably not good for younger kids), and the fact that homework is not the solution to the latter.