Thursday, May 5, 2016

What are kids learning?

What are kids learning in school?  Do we really know?  In his recent article, Most Parents Have No Idea What Their Kids Are Learning In School, Will Richardson, technology and education writer and thinker contemplates what a grade tells him (or not) about what his own children are learning in high school.  He wonders what is sticking with them from their school day that they will use in their lives to become more successful or fulfilled?

I asked this question today in our faculty meeting: How is the culture of the middle school right now? The math teacher piped up immediately, "We had a middle school meeting yesterday - and they are all good!  There are no social issues!"  We all laughed (because middle school life centers around social issues.)  The Health teacher chimed in, "I am talking with the kids about stress in their lives and they said the same thing.  Their friends are not stressors - their parents are! You know - bugging them to see their phones and getting too involved in their lives." Another chuckle from the faculty.

We tend to measure the subject-content of kids' learning - can they add detail to an essay or can they describe the water cycle?  At Parker, we actually do try to measure some of the traits of a successful learner - like the ability to take intellectual risks or work independently, or cooperatively.

But I'm not sure we let parents know the most crucial things, like does their child have a passion to achieve or are they purposeful?  Are they becoming better at negotiating social conflict?  Do they stand up for their beliefs?  Do we let parents know if their kids are measuring up to the school's motto?

Or  - are all of these the wrong things to report to parents because, really, as the kids say, parents are getting just too involved in their lives anyway!

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