I was downtown a few days ago for a professional development workshop and sat next to a colleague who had young children in a school district near to mine. He was describing how his first and third grade children were being asked regularly to participate in very elaborate collaborative projects. He is a ninth grade English teacher and said that he is seriously considering adapting several of the projects for use with HIS high school students. He went on to say that the expectations for these projects were so rigorous that he suspects that all the other parents were as involved as he, in helping the students keep up.
At the same time, sitting to my right, a woman chimed in about the rigorous nature of certain Drama and Theatre Academic Content Standards. ( I didn’t even realize these existed). I asked her to send me a copy and would agree that expectations for grade TWO like the following, are sadly mind numbing for even our older students.
Grade 2:”Communicate Information about the role of a playwrite in terms of story and script development.”
In the final analysis: What are we really accomplishing with our most attentive, eager learners, when we ask them to demonstrate concepts and skill sets and participate in activities that are I believe, far beyond their years and abilities? How will these elaborate inquiry based projects play out for seven and eight year old students in less affluent school districts, where parents and grandparents aren’t as available or informed as those of my colleague?
We reluctantly had to abandon the discussion as the workshop began, but ended it agreeing that we longed for the days of kindergarten rooms with kitchens and rugs with letters on them.
We also doubted our own ability, when we were children, to navigate these heady waters. All I kept thinking afterward was where has all the “fun” of school gone?Image Credit: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/gsc.5a19656/