Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reversing home and school

Is this just our school, or is it schools in general?

Today yet another local parent reported to me how her child's teacher, while acknowledging the importance of arithmetic drills, states that there simply isn't enough time during the school day to conduct them. Apparently group-centered, hands-on, discovery learning, and 40-minute-long sharing of multiple solutions to single problems, leaves little time for multiplication tables and such.

Since at least the beginning of this school year, the abiding message from our school's teachers and math specialist has been: You parents should be teaching kids the addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts at home.

To this, I have several reactions:

1. Why do schools have less time to teach these things than they did back when we parents were kids?

2. This seems like a great way to widen the achievement gap between kids from different home environments.

3. It's also yet another way in which schools are attempting to reverse the roles of home and school. Schools continue to assume more and more responsibility for children's social and emotional development, and for the informal application of academic skills, while handing off more and more hard-core academic responsibilities to parents (arithmetic facts, penmanship, phonics).

4. Has anyone bothered to ask us parents whether we'd rather spend time drilling our kids on multiplication facts and teaching them phonics and penmanship?... Or whether we'd perhaps prefer to have their classroom teachers do this so that we have more time to take them to museums, do hands-on activities with them, and attend to their social and emotional development?


Mrs. C said...

LOL Actually, this is what emboldened me to homeschool finally. I was doing it anyway!

Beth said...

Boy are you singing my tune with this one. This gets to the heart of the whole homework issue. No-one in their right mind would expect a child to do their learning at the end of the day, when they're exhausted. If you homeschooled, you could use less time than the kids spend on homework, and you'd do it during the hours of the school day, when the kid has some energy!

And I'm not sure that the time at school is taken up with hands-on learning. A lot of school time is spent on prepping for standardized tests, as well as taking them. A lot of time also goes to the logistics of managing a roomful of kids.

SwitchedOnMom said...

Hi! Coming late to this, but wanted to chime in. I recently had a heavily commented on thread on math. Check out this: for a quote from a principal on math homework and learning math facts. And you'll also appreciate this post this which answers parent questions about math.