CCSS Until Students Hate Learning? Is It Worth It?

Hate is a strong word. I realize that, but last week I wrote about a concerning issue I have with homework. As I continue to think about homework and school I am beginning to connect more dots to the puzzle.

Recently I read a blog post titled Write Until You Puke. In the post, the author of the article states that, “However, I fear they will also learn to hate reading and writing when they walk out of my classroom.” This statement was made in regards to the fact that new curriculum and standards in his room are forcing kids to write more than ever. The title of the blog post grabbed my attention right away because….

My Son No Longer Loves School!

There, I said it! Maybe I should not admit that being an educator and someone who loves learning and pushing students to their limits. However, I am seeing a shift in the education landscape right now that really worries me. I feel like educators are being pushed very hard to make new changes to meet the needs of all the initiatives being pushed down. The support is not always there to make sure they are okay and comfortable with the shift. Students are feeling the stress as well. If I use my son as an example, he has never been so negative and devastated by school before. He likes his teacher so this is not a story of not liking a teacher or anything personal. It is more about the shift in the environment of learning.

He states almost every single day that he does not like school anymore because all he does is write all day and sit. They write for math because now the standards require that kids write their thoughts and explain their thinking. They then move into a language arts program that consumes pretty much the rest of the day doing reading and writing. Due to time constraints I think social studies becomes more reading and writing because there is not enough time to do more hands on exploration so they have to read and write. Science when done is good, but it does not happen as much as he would like.

I share this with you all because I think students need to be challenged. But not to the point of hating school. No 9-year-old should lose an interest in learning. This breaks my heart. What are we doing?

School should be engaging. It should be fun. Yes, fun! Not every element will be fun, but overall students should be excited to come to school. Instead it becomes a place of burden where their needs are not being met. Because of pressure, they are then given more work to do at home so after sitting for 7-8 hours a day they have to come home and sit for another 1-2 hours to work. What happened to the joy of playing, exploring, building, crafting, designing mindset of a kid?

I have referenced this book many times, but 

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

This book has radically changed how I think through the obstacles of life. This whole notion of asking questions and how to properly think through the questions is a game changer. As an educator we need to implement this into our teaching. In life, we can start to question the world and be okay with not always having the answers. Our society places pressures on finding answers quickly, but this book demonstrates a whole new perspective and can really help move everything in the proper direction. One of the best books I have read this year. So far, it is my favorite read of 2014. A MUST READ! Read more More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
this book really has me rethinking things. Why do kids stop asking questions after the age of four? I used to think it was  combination of growing up, developing answers, and society(parents, school, etc.) downplaying their curiosity. The way education is going kids will no longer ask any questions because there is not time nor are they excited enough to be curious and inquisitive.

What are the ultimate goals of the changes in education? Are we striving for more students who can read and write, but don’t because they have grown to hate it? Are we striving to develop students who are curious and have to use skills necessary to solve problems? Are we designing classrooms to go back to the Industrial Age of forcing them to sit all day and process knowledge? Are we designing classrooms where they move around, collaborate, brainstorm, and find answers?

I don’t know what is going on. As I struggle myself to find some clarity as an educator and struggle even more as a parent I am really worried about the shape of education in this nation.

Writing this post reminds me of a book I read a few years back by Yong Zhao where he questions why America is shifting education to look like China while China is shifting their practices to look like us. At the time I was not seeing the shift from our angle, but this year I feel like the change is happening where we are slowly morphing into the system of China and I don’t like it. We are not robots. We are humans who need the opportunities to explore, challenge, question, and have open dialogues about learning. We need the atmosphere of asking questions and problem solving to thrive in schools. Many kids do their own exploring on their own time and find their own interests on their own time. Shouldn’t this be the goal of schools?

World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students

World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students

Genre: Education
Let me start by stating that this book pretty felt like the ideas were taken from my head and Yong Zhao just brought clarity and data to support the ideas. This book is a must read! As the American Education System works towards spending billions of dollars in creating a Common Core curriculum, other countries are trying to emulate what America schools once were. I am not stating that the school system we had was perfect, but it allowed students to pursue their interests and there is a reason that we have more creative awards, innovators, Novel Laureates, and patents than any other country. Forcing everyone to teach the same way is going to cause schools to eliminate those opportunities for students to explore their passions. This book discusses what America is doing wrong and questions why we want to be like a China education system that can have students pass tests, but cannot innovate? China is striving to be us and vice versa. We are in a pivotal moment right now in education and this book shows what can be if we continue down this path. It is imperative that teachers have freedom within their classroom. When a teacher can no longer teach a project because other teachers in the subject field don’t want to and teachers cannot add their own flare to their subject, then students lose out. This mindset is settling in not only with policy makers, but communities as well. Parents want more work. More homework, harder classes, more tests, etc. At what point do we say enough! A child should not have to attend school for 6-7 hours a day and then go home to hours of homework each night. It is very important for kids to have time to explore, play, sports, art, music, drama, etc. These avenues allow students to find out who they are and what they want to pursue. Yong Zhao, the author of this book lays out what he thinks needs to happen to allow students to think like entrepreneurs and prepare for the world. The way things are going right now we are not allowing for this to happen. This is a well written book. He supports all ideas with several facts, figures, and examples. Being a book review I won’t go into all my thoughts and ideas with each section of this book, but I will tell you that this a necessary read for anyone involved in education and wondering what the future holds for us. If we don’t start to rethink how we teach and how schools operate we are going to find ourselves falling behind. Creating a national curriculum driven by people who have not stepped foot in a classroom is not the answer. Teachers need to be willing to step up and take risks to challenge their students. As Rabindranath Tagore stated, “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” It is time for teachers to change and adapt how we teach. It is time for administrators to step up to the challenge and change the system. And it is time for policy makers to get out of the way and quit acting like they know what they are talking about. If our students don’t prepare to be a global citizen and learn to seek out problems and learn to solve them, then the future could be different from life today! Read this book and find out more about how we can change things to better prepare our students for their future. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon

I am not quite sure what to make of things right now. Perhaps the path we are on is not as gloom as I think. Maybe it is, but as both an educator and a parent I worry. Sticking with my guns I will work to come up with solutions and be proactive. To sit and complain does nothing. I hope this does not come across as complaining, but as an open letter to let my readers know that I am stuck in the middle of the murkiness with all of you. The power of teacher voice, parent voice, and student voice is going to be needed more than ever.

Until then, I will work on a personal level to help my own kid find solutions to enjoying school again.


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One thought on “CCSS Until Students Hate Learning? Is It Worth It?

  1. This post really caught my attention as last night my 7 year old in 1st grade wanted to come out to the garage and learn/help change the oil in the car and replace a headlight, but mom made him go inside because he had to do his homework. He had practiced with his soccer team after school, helped handout candy in the homecoming parade as a part of our Rotary Club, and now wanted to learn a life skill, but instead had to go and do his spelling list, math homework, and read his 3 books (all of which are fairly easy for him, but he still has to “do the time”). When I look back, in his 4 hours of freedom after school he had chosen to exercise and learn what it means to be a part of a team, taken an active part in his community representing a service organism, and wanted to learn a life skill and spend some time in the garage with his dad, but instead had to “practice” what he had been working on for the majority of the day in school. He has always liked school up to this point, but if it is going to keep him from what he wants to learn in his free time I have a feeling that will change.