Monday, March 26, 2012

Article in Washington Post

On Valerie Strauss' Washington Post Education Blog today 20 questions for parents about k-12 school reform.

My response:

I’m a parent of three adult children and the author of the book, “The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.” I think I passed Professor Willett’s test answering yes to a majority (at least 11) of these questions, although most of my answers are more an “I guess so,” than a resounding “Yes!” It’s questions 5, 13, and 19 that piqued my interest enough to write this response.  Question 19 about reading with my children gets a resounding Yes. Questions 5 and 13, taking responsibility for my children’s academic education and homework get strong No’s. I agree that this teaching to the test mania is setting us off in the wrong direction, and we should speak up, not to challenge teachers but to support them in having the freedom to relate to our children, use their training and judgment, and teach them well.  I also agree that if more is to be learned, we should consider extending the school day (or school year). But I also believe strongly that it is misguided to think of the home as an  extension of school, particularly in the form of excessive and coercive homework (parents left powerless to the make their own decisions about what takes place in their homes). Sure, home is a place for learning, but that’s for lessons that cannot be taught in school. And what could be better than for child and parent to sit side by side, each independently and quietly reading a book? But go to school so you can coach your child in homework? That doesn’t teach children anything, and certainly not the joy of learning. Parents should stay cognizant of their children’s schools; but children also need boundaries, a clear distinction between home and school. So take some adult education classes and learn something that interests you.  Then, come home and have fun with your children.  Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D.

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