Yesterday’s New York Times had a wonderful op-ed by Susan Engel, Playing to Learn, about the pressing need to completely overhaul the education system. Instead of schools focusing so much on standards and facts, the author writes:
So what should children be able to do by age 12, or the time they leave elementary school? They should be able to read a chapter book, write a story and a compelling essay; know how to add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers; detect patterns in complex phenomena; use evidence to support an opinion; be part of a group of people who are not their family; and engage in an exchange of ideas in conversation. If all elementary school students mastered these abilities, they would be prepared to learn almost anything in high school and college.
With that in mind, schools could be an engaging place where students read for 2 hours a day, write about subjects that are meaningful to them, practice the math basics (and then go on to activities that are equally essential for math and science such as devising original experiments and observing the natural world), and have plenty of time to play.
Is anyone listening?
Read the piece here and then copy and send it to the principal of your child’s elementary and middle school.