Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer reading project, 3rd grade

Have been procrastinating all month on this one, but soon we'll have to bit the bullet:

In How to be Cool in Third Grade, Robbie, the main character, discovered that the best way to be "cool" in third grade is not by wearing jeans or by avoiding his mom's kisses at the bus stop. Rather, he learned to be cool by letting his best qualities (being smart, nice, and funny) shine through. Create a poster that in some way shows your three best qualities. Be as creative and colorful as possible! On the poster, please also write a few sentences that describe how your three best qualities will be helpful in your third grade classroom this year.
What if a child's best qualities don't include postering and visual creativity?

In particular, how well do the project's self-esteem promoting strategies serve this child?


Beth said...

Have you read these books?

The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn

The Case Against Homework, Bennett and Kalish

If you haven't read them, I hope you will.

You know, I have a daughter who is extremely visually creative, and she wouldn't want to do this assignment either.

I don't think this assignment is about self-esteem. It's really about classroom control. It's about starting the year telling the kids to be nice and polite and obey the teacher.

And the overall theme of the exercise is that you have to do what the teacher tells you, even if you're on summer vacation.

Please! Resist! You're the parent, you get to say no. Tell them you don't do school assignments on summer vacation, because it makes your kids hate school.

Honestly, this stuff just winds me up. Since when does the school think they get to invade our kids' vacation? And the quality of most homework assignments is so poor that it makes you wonder what they're wasting your kids' time on at school.

Argh. Homeschooling yet?

Beth said...

"Be creative!" No. A child can either be creative or follow the teacher's directions, but he can't possibly do both at the same time.

It's like another old favorite, "Have fun!" usually encountered at the end of a long list of instructions.

So much of the stuff that goes on in school just seems half-baked. The teachers got the message that learning should be creative and fun, which I agree with, but nobody was willing to do the deep thinking and reform that would actually make that possible. So we wind up with stale porridge which is not creative, or fun, or learning.