Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous, Auntie Ann and momof4

On Creativity vs. mere whimsy

Anonymous said...
Your son's assignments drive many kids crazy. Not everyone likes writing stories and one can be a well-educated adult without doing so. The ability to write clear, correct, factually accurate non-fiction is a big assent in any field and is often a perquisite for advancement. Please, no stories; let us write non-fiction and do correct for content, grammar and style. That's the old-fashioned way, before the creative writing mania hit. Keep creative writing as elective-only.
Auntie Ann said...
The crazy-making assignments are a staple across education these days.

Teachers seem to think that art projects or creative assignments are a way to make learning fun, but they do not take into account those kids who don't find them the slightest bit fun. What about them? Teachers don't seem to recognize that some of these so-called fun assignments are torturing a non-negligible part of their class. Our kid is highly fastidious, the slightest mistake in his artwork and he gets incredibly frustrated. Give him a dopey prompt, and he can't get started. Give him a research assignment and paper to write, and he's happy as a clam--but make him do a poster about it and he hits the wall.

We get very tired of taking trips to the art store every week.

The cynic in me says that it's much easier to grade 20 posters than it is to grade 20 papers, and that's why they get assigned instead. It's much easier to stress the creativity and content of a fiction story than it is to actually go through and mark the grammar and spelling errors (especially when many of the teachers aren't terribly strong at grammar either.) It's also easier to flatten the grading on a creative project than it is a research paper or essay. Check the right boxes on the rubric, and you can have an A. Doesn't matter if you actually learned something: is your lettering straight and tidy? Is your poster visually appealing? Do you have a good use of color? (Our kid was graded down because he really, really wanted a project to be in black and white and the teacher insisted he had to color it.) Very little of the grade ends up being actually learning or content based. 
momof4 said...
Exactly. Schools talk a lot about learning styles but refuse to acknowledge that some kids don't find artsy projects fun and would rather write a proper report. I've come to think that ES teachers (especially but now including many MS teachers) love them, personally, and aren't even aware that many kids hate them. It's playing school, not real academics. 

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