The Wheel

I heard in the news this morning of an elementary school, somewhere in the U.S., which has stopped giving its students homework. In lieu of homework, the little darlings must read – for half an hour, every day – a book of their choice. The goal, the article said, is to teach the value of communication in all disciplines, and the rationale is that reading about things that interest them will stimulate them to learn.

How delightful for those children. No homework! I would have killed (figuratively speaking) to have no homework when I was a boy. Of course, the children think it’s a wonderful thing – as they are wont to do. Having no homework frees them up for the far more important tasks like Nintendo practice and television watching.

I’m sure, too, that the educators in this case feel like pioneers. I mean, this is completely new, isn’t it? No one’s ever thought of having children read before – of handing them a book instead of an iPad, a magazine instead of a video game. No one has ever actually connected the dots of reading and writing before, have they? It has never before, in the history of man, been shown that reading aids writing, and writing aids reading, and that the two combined equal communication. No, this is completely new.

I think these children – all children – would be better off doing at least a half hour of reading every day, plus the homework which helps them learn skills and discover new things. All I can really say is that these kids may enjoy a smooth ride now, but they’re in for a shock when and if they get to university. In university the homework comes thick and fast, and is in addition to the reading. In university, the reading is just the beginning. These kids will not be prepared for that kind of thing, and they will suffer for the experiments of their teachers.

Why do teachers today feel they have to change what has worked for thousands of years? Is it arrogance, or ego? They really should stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Anyway, today is day two. Today I get to check out my Communication and Food Culture class. I’m excited. I’m reading Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires pre-class (half an hour every day!) and am enjoying it thoroughly.

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But now I must go. I’m rambling, and it’s cutting into Nintendo time.

J.

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