Thursday, March 17, 2011

An argument FOR author visits

In the 11/8/10 Newsweek educational article “Class Action,” Sehba Ali writes,
[W]e shouldn’t spend all that extra class time only teaching academics. With budget cuts affecting schools nationwide, fewer are able to offer music and extracurriculars, but if kids are drilled in math and reading all day, they’ll lose interest in learning. Schools should extend their hours if they have the funding for both academics and extracurriculars. They need to provide time not only for remediation but also for sports, languages, performing-arts groups, and clubs for activities like debating that improve creativity and leadership skills.
I do agree with the overall sentiment, of course, but find one aspect worded a bit unfairly: “…if kids are drilled in math and reading all day, they’ll lose interest in learning.”

For starters, the word “drilled” is loaded. But the bigger point is that a good teacher can spend all day (or at least all school day) on any given topic and make it engaging.

Like with the telling of a story, the teaching of a subject requires finesse. I am realistic. I know not all teachers are of the caliber our kids deserve. Yet I take issue when the very idea of teaching in a school is equated to any degree with causing apathy. We are all in a constant state of learning. School is just the place that makes that overt, so it’s the one that bears the greatest stigma.

Yet this is not the point worth focusing on. The article wisely reminds that learning does work best as a potpourri. We need well-rounded kids, not just so they may know a little about a lot but so they will always have something to look forward to in school. That makes them happier in general to be there, and motivates them to do better at least some of the time, if not all.

Simply put, there is value in learning things that will not be on the test. Because a school test is not always the most effective preparation for a life test.


Genevieve Petrillo said...

Yes! It's all about having something to look forward to - in school and in life. I know this from my time as a teacher, and enjoy it from another perspective, as a picture book author who LOVES doing school visits.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks for chiming in, Genevieve!