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
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?
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.