Saturday, December 01, 2012

Pedagogical Criticism

I admit it.  I have opinions about what my kids should be doing in school.  In many ways, I am much more hands-off than other parents, I think.  Even when I disagree with what a teacher is focusing on, and even when I wish a teacher might handle something differently, it's actually pretty rare for me to say something.  Mostly, I figure my kids will have to learn lots of different ways to get along in the world, and they will have to work with and for lots of different people.

But sometimes, teachers do things that are stupid things.  Not just silly mistakes- we all make mistakes.  But stupid, wrong things.

For example:
Why, why, why does my fourth grader have to study his "spelling" words (which are really vocabulary words) so that he can recite them word-for-word.  And write them that way, too?

To me, this is stupid.  It does him no good to recite a definition if he does not really understand it.  It is especially stupid when those definitions include other words that could probably be vocabulary words in themselves.  Doesn't it make more sense for him to define the word using his own words?  Then he at least demonstrates - on some level - his understanding of the words.

Another example:
When my child happens to omit or mis-spell a word in the definition he has memorized (or attempted to memorize), why, why, why does he have to write the words, in isolation, 5-10 times each?  What is the value in that?  We are not talking about words that a kid needs to practice either.  One week Casey had to write out the words, "of" and "where" five times each because he left them out of the definition.  Even though he totally knows how to spell them.  One week, he had to write the word "physical" ten times.  Even though on his test he spelled it how his teacher spelled it the first day she introduced the definition ("phisical").  She subsequently corrected her spelling.  But I don't think Casey should be punished when he learned it how she originally wrote it.

And that's what the silly exercise is-- punishment. It's writing to punish kids.  Which angers me, too.

But what's the point in expressing any of this to his teacher?  It will make her angry and defensive. Even though she's wrong.  Sigh.

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