Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's wrong with this picture? Just about everything.

The following excerpt is just the beginning of Alfie Kohn's book The Schools Our Children Deserve:

Abigail is given plenty of worksheets to complete in class as well as a substantial amount of homework. She studies to get good grades, and her school is proud of its high standardized test scores. Outstanding students are publicly recognized by the use of honor rolls, awards assemblies, and bumper stickers. Abigail's teacher, a charismatic lecturer, is clearly in control of the class: students raise their hands and wait patiently to be recognized. The teacher prepares detailed lesson plans well ahead of time, uses the latest textbooks, and gives regular quizzes to make sure kids stay on track.
What's wrong with this picture? Just about everything.
And he's not kidding!

If you really want to rethink school... if you can remember it not being all that peachy... if you want school to be better for your kids than it was for you, then you owe it to yourself and your children to stop simply reconciling yourself to the way school is now and has almost always been. Grades, tests, homework, worksheets, detention, rows of desks and lectures are not like the weather! They are not these things we have to simply resign ourselves to. These things are ideas and techniques that can and must be challenged.

If you are as revved up as me about all this, then you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the following progressive educators:


  1. I am curious to know what's your take on Alfred Adler "The Education of Children".

  2. My daughter, like 'Abigail' that Kohn describes in the excerpt, does very well in school. But that does not mean that she is getting inspired, learning how to solve problems with multiple solutions, or learning how to learn like she will need to once the worksheets and vocabulary lists are behind her.

    In addition, there are many children that do not succeed in such a classroom. It may take them twice as long to complete the nightly homework, which increases their frustration with school and negatively affects their feelings about learning as something enjoyable and exciting.

    Abigail's grades and test scores provide little evidence of how what she is doing or learning in that classroom will help her down the road. I want more for my daughter, more for students like Abigail, and especially more for the students who do not succeed in that type of classroom.

    Educators and parents, even those with students who succeed in traditional classrooms, must challenge schools to offer more to all students. They need to see that their children are being short-changed, that they are missing opportunities to be truly engaged in and excited by learning.

  3. @saya, I am not familiar with that book or author. I shall look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.


  4. @Pete, thank you for your comment. I hear and feel the message you bring. My daughter is 3 and I already think about her future schooling.


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