As we come to the end of another year, it is time once again to think about the changes we will make in the next 12 months. The world of education is changing rapidly. However, there are still many areas that need to be addressed.
Here are five educational practices we need to say goodbye to in 2017:
- Homework As We Know It
The debate surrounding homework is in full swing. Educators and parents are trying to figure out if we should give homework, how much is too much, how much is too little, and what should be assigned. After 15 years in education at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, I believe that homework needs to be re-envisioned. We need to say goodbye to worksheets with 30 math problems and lined paper to copy sentences over and over again. Homework should not reduce children to tears and raise the blood pressure of parents. After spending eight hours in school, do we really need to saddle children with more work? They should spend their time playing sports, learning an instrument, and exploring the outdoors. Teachers shouldn’t have to spend hours correcting these mundane exercises that tell them nothing about how a particular child is doing. Some suggestions to change homework practices would be have them read, work on a project with peers, or investigate real world issues.
- Surface Level EdTech
I spend a considerable amount of time on Twitter and Facebook every day connecting with educators and learning new ideas. I have come across some wonderfully rich and intriguing uses of Edtech. Unfortunately, I have also seen a fair share of Edtech being used for the sake of Edtech. Children need to use technology to further their understanding and to increase their engagement with educational concepts. We should not be employing technology into schools that do not advance this notion. Cool new tools will be engaging to students for a short time, but will never yield the learning results that are needed. Educators must decide what the learning objectives are when using technology, not just by the shiniest toy.
- Using Yoga / Bouncy Balls And Calling It Flexible Seating
First off, I am a proponent of flexible seating arrangements. We need to move away from having students sit in rows or “cemetery” style, as I like to call it. I believe in students sitting in pods in order to collaborate with their peers on a regular basis. I believe in having multiple areas in classrooms for learning and allowing students some autonomy in where they sit and learn. However, I have seen too many pictures of “flexible” seating that shows students in yoga or bouncy balls. We need to remember that it is not what they are sitting in, but how seating arrangements are used to further engage students.
- The Traditional School Newsletter
For decades, teachers and administrators churned out weekly or monthly newsletters. They were sent home in backpacks of children across the country never to be seen again. We live in a digital world. Why are we still requiring schools to produce this monthly monstrosity? Schools should be using digital formats to communicate with parents and the community. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Calendars can easily replace the traditional newsletter. Furthermore, updates can happen on a daily basis. Pictures can be sent across social media as events happen, not several weeks later.
- Reading Logs
I am the proud father of a Kindergartener and a second grader. My second grader can’t get enough of chapter books. Part of her daily homework is 15 minutes of reading. I know that I am lucky that she chooses to read willingly and enjoys picking out new books. However, it can be torture for her to complete that dreadful reading log. I can’t figure out what purpose this reading log serves. Have you every heard a child say, “I can’t wait to fill out my nightly reading log”? I haven’t either. Let’s not spoil the magic that happens when a child learns to read competently and independently by making them fill out a glorified worksheet.
Time to say goodbye to these antiquated or ineffective school practices.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions
7 thoughts on “5 Educational Concepts We Need To Eliminate In 2017”
This is an interesting article and I agree with most of it. I would like to comment on homework and the school newspapers.
Our children are grown now but I remember nights of endless — and mindless — homework. As a teacher myself, I realize that repetition is a method of learning. However, some of the worksheets sent home, in my opinion, were nothing but busywork. Homework can be useful but it needs to have a purpose.
And I fully agree that children need time to pursue other interests and de-stress after school. Look at all the articles telling adults how to de-stress and simplify life. And then the Yoga classes, meditation classes, seminars on how to “let go” and reduce the stress your life, etc. … Really? How about starting that as children and maybe we wouldn’t become stressed-out adults!
While going paperless would save money and trees, it shouldn’t be entirely eliminated. With seemingly so many people having smart phones or some computer device, it’s easy to forget that many people also do not have those devices.
I live in an area hard hit by a depressed economy. I know people who are stretched to pay for the necessities of life and can’t afford a smart phone or a computer, much less pay for Internet access if it is even available in their remote area. I know other people who choose not to have those items because they want a more “unplugged” lifestyle. (See above-mentioned seminars, LOL.)
Ask the child or the parents how they would like to receive those newsletters or other reports and if they ask for paper, don’t make them feel like they are anything less because they don’t have access to fancy devices. You won’t be able to completely cut out paper documents but it can be decreased.
Just my 2-cents…Penny Peeler
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I agree with all of the above!
Though I totally agree with the pod desks for collaboration, I also like to include the option of a quiet area for working alone. Some students will prefer this and work better. This is just one option of course. They shouldn’t be there all of the time with no collaboration. It depends on the task. It’s just another option.
I wrote a similar post recently, but maths specific. You might be interested. https://mrhillmusings.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/five-maths-practices-to-scrap-in-2017/
I love your blog! Keep up the good work!
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I have always thought homework did nothing but cause havoc in the home…. parents are unable to help… working parents come home tired and having to deal with undone homework is the last thing they need. Children have been in school all day and they are tired….this environment is not good for learning anything…
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I think homework can be valuable – but not the traditional kind. Rather, taking 15-30 minutes away from screens to consider what was learned and put it into practical use can be effective. For example, if we learned something about compound and complex sentences on a given day, a good homework would be to find a favorite childhood story and re-write several sentences making them compound or complex. This shows that the child understands the concept and can put it into use with something of which he or she already has prior knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a book, it can simply be a story that the child knows (if the household has no books). This can then be shared in class – no grading needed, and students can collaborate on the most effective ways to make the writing more interesting. I agree that hours of homework every night is not healthy, but practice is very important for retaining information. If we get creative, there are lots of ways kids can practice that are fun. Instead of playing “Horse” on the basketball court, play whatever the vocabulary word of the day is. Create a new jump-rope rhyme using information from social studies class or math class. I see a real problem with lack of retention of information in my students, so getting them to practice on their own seems extremely important to me.
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Another HUGE educational concept that needs to change is the attitude towards students who qualify for special education. We must PRESUME COMPETENCE!! I have learned this lesson time and time again as a mom of a son with Down syndrome. Just because students “won’t” doesn’t mean they “can’t.” Educators need to BE READY for those students with unique needs. They have civil rights just as students of typical ability. My son’s teachers ALL need to be ready for him each day and each lesson plan.
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I agree with your comments about the traditional school newsletter. My school is using an online communication portal and mobile app called SimplyCircle which puts all parent and school communication on your phone. We love it!