Excuse #421

There are few things that exasperate me more than the notion of teachers basing practice on getting students ‘ready for the next grade/high school/university’. It’s not that I find the concept inherently faulty. In fact, on premise alone, it’s a fantastic notion: build prerequisite and fundamental skills so students are prepared for larger challenges in the future. The real problem is that these statements usually signal a defeatist mentality more than anything else.

I have to give a lot of homework because that’s what they get in high school.

We have to focus only on the three-part essay because that’s what’s demanded in university.

We have to take marks off because that’s what Mr. Meaniebobeanie would do in the next grade.

These justifications are more often than not excuses for bad pedagogy, and a means to place the blame for it on a mystical bogey man called ‘the next level’. It behooves anyone that is attempting to justify suspect teaching practices to at least own up to them. It’s either important to learn or it isn’t. Please don’t blame the future for bad learning in the present.

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6 Comments

  1. Oh, this one gets to me too! Not sure how many times I have said, “Can we just let them be IN Grade — , please! Sometimes the stress of the here and now is enough on kids! Thanks for the reminder on this one!

  2. Sometimes Mr. Meaniebobeanie is just doing his job or going by what the rule requires. Not all teachers want to give out a lot of homework its just what is required so it has to be done. Sometimes this can be stressful on kids but in a way it teaches time management which you have to apply to every aspect of life.

  3. It never works the other way, though. At my kids’ elementary school, they recently instructed the kids to walk quietly, single-file, on the right side of the hallway. The teacher told them that in junior high, everyone walks through the hallways noisily and chaotically, and that they wouldn’t like that at all. So much for preparing them for junior high!

    Some day the kids will be free citizens in a democratic society. But somehow that never serves as a rationale for giving the kids more practice with freedom, or more experience in having some say in the institutions that govern their daily lives.

  4. I’ve been plagued by the argument that we must continue chase testsandgrades and homework and lectures and sit and get and all sorts of poor pedagogy simply because the kids need to be prepared to have all this stuff done to them when they get to University. This line of reasoning is stifling and more than a little soul killing.

    Thanks for this post. It’s helping me to play out my thoughts on how to work with people who are drowning in college preparation.

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