In yesterday’s blog post, a former principal and current teacher wrote about some of the problems with homework. As we continued our email exchange, he offered more insights which I’m sharing with you today:
Are we teaching or are we preparing for exams so that we can demonstrate accountability?
In a knowledge based model (the lowest level of the continuum of learning) we must ‘push’ through material and ensure that we ‘cover’ what needs to be covered. I am all for exit outcomes, but creating curriculums to be covered for the sake of covering allows a mindset to develop. It is one in which certain rituals are necessary to demonstrate accountability: (a) show that there is a ample amount of cleverly written curriculum, (b) develop a rigor and pace that will force this curriculum to be covered in a stringently set amount of time, (c) demonstrate the rigor and breadth of the curriculum by stressing teachers, stressing students, and stressing parents — stress, after all, is the hallmark of success; (d) give lots of homework to prove the validity of the curriculum and the rigor of the approach. Homework becomes an indicator of something that ought to be real. It’s not real, however. It’s a facade meant to placate the accountability police.
I was in China recently visiting a private school… whoa, they study from morning to night and create great students… er, regurgitators of knowledge. And with all their great results, they send their students in the thousands to Western schools (as do many Eastern countries) to understand play, freedom, fun, creativity, joy, diversity, individuality, self-determination…. I have dealt with educators from China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan and all of them are awed by our system… why? They see the uniqueness of our education — the soul. Yet they can’t change because they are caught in the illusionary dance of sequences… so they send their kids here to get their hearts back, to learn about their souls……