Serious question to all you parents out there: What are your kids really learning in school? I don’t mean what grades are they getting. I mean what are they really learning? What’s sticking with them that they will actually use in their day to day lives to become more successful or more fulfilled as they grow older?
My answer to that question comes from reflecting on the combined 22 years of schooling my own kids have had. Sure, they’re learning how to read and to write. Their learning some tidbits about history and science and math and other things that may stick with them into adulthood. But more, they’re learning how to figure out what each teacher wants, how to team study with their friends to prepare for tests, how to read the very least they can in order to get a good class participation grade, and how to talk to members of the opposite sex, just to name a few.
It’s funny, but when I dive into the “Parent Portal!” (to be read with a loud, deep, echoing voice), that stuff doesn’t seem to be noted there. I can see that Tucker got a 19/20 on his “Molarity and Solutions Lab” in Chemistry (I think I got a 17/20…), but only a 40.2/50 on his “Argument Unit-Multiple Choice” in AP Lang. There’s nothing in there about talking to girls.
And, shocking as it may sound, Tucker really doesn’t share much with us about what he’s “learning” in school. (Adolescence, I know.) He doesn’t seem to be making or creating much in school. Nor has he (ever) been out in the community doing work that he can point to when we drive by it and say “I did that!”
So, I’m left with 17/20 and 40.2, which tell me literally nothing about what he’s learned in a curricular sense. Zero. Nada. (Hopefully, he learned how to do better on the next multiple choice quiz.)
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m a bad parent. Maybe I should try harder to get him to report out all that he’s learned in class. Maybe I should be calling his teachers on a regular basis and ask what that 40.2 really means in a learning sense. And even more, maybe I should be calling them and asking what they mean by “learning” in the first place. I mean, what would he get on his “Molarity and Solutions Lab” two years from now were he to conduct it again?
Point is, I don’t think parents in general have much of a clue at all what their kids are “learning” in school, and to be honest, I think that’s just the way schools like it. The less info on that the better. It’s just less complicated. And parents are complicit in this, right? I mean what parent wants to admit that, just like themselves, their kids are really “learning” very little of the curriculum for the long term, and that the real learning is the stuff that doesn’t end up on the report card? That what they really care about, more than anything else, is the grade?
Since there’s no room in the parent portal for more than just numbers, I’m not expecting this to change any time soon…
(A bit of a riff on this piece by John Warner.)
(Image credit: Ryan Tauss)