Tuesday, February 17, 2009


When did teaching become about fitting each child into the proverbial box? Why does each child have to be exactly like the one sitting next to him? Why do they all have to complete a task at the exact same moment? Like robots.

One of Blake's goals on his report card that his teacher and I discussed was that he would write more. During writing time, he sits and thinks rather than starting writing. Now, I know my kid... he doesn't like to begin a story until he knows the end of the story. But that just isn't good enough. Apparently *thinking* about your story is not part of the writing process. I'm sure I could find an author or two who disagree with that statement.

Anyway, Blake brings home a very well written story on bullying. He used complete sentences. His penmanship was very neat. He used proper punctuation. He had several thoughts in the story. He even included a story map. BUT... he had turned the paper sideways and written the story across the lines (so lines were vertical). The ONLY comment on the paper from the teacher was "Please use the lines!"

My thought is.... the goal is to WRITE..... does it matter if the story was written on post it notes? He WROTE. He wrote a LOT. The teacher's response? "When we hand a third grader a piece of lined paper and ask them to write, we expect them to write on the lines."

Ok, fine... then instead of bashing him for not using the lines (the exclamation point is what really got me on that one) write, "Great detail in your story. Next time please use the lines :) " Praise him for what he did RIGHT.... don't just bash him for what he did wrong.

I believe this for ALL of the kids... not just mine.

No wonder kids are dropping out of school younger and younger. Here is the box... get in it, sit down and shut up. Who cares if you are uncomfortable? Who cares if you don't quite fit in that box? For goodness sake do NOT learn something by using your hands. And when your work is finished, you will sit at your desk and be quiet. There will be no activities for you to do to keep yourself busy while you wait for the rest of the class to finish... as a matter of fact, if you are finished then they should be too.

Shelley does cool things w/ her 5th graders. She will often put out art supplies and let them just have at it when their work is complete. Fun? Yes. Are they learning? Absolutely. She is allowing them to be creative...to look at the materials and make a plan of what they are going to do with them... and then to implement that plan... and if there are problems with their plan along the way, they are allowed to re-plan.... and then re-do. Does it fit snuggly within the curriculum? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

Ok... I'm stepping off my soap box now. I can't guarantee I won't step back up... but for now I'm off :)

1 comment:

Tonia said...

See, "No Child Left Behind." Sometimes I think the pressure will kill me. I have to buck the system in defense of the humanity of kids all the time and it's very tiring.