NewsOK readers were recently asked if they felt children should spend more time in the classroom. The responses printed in The Oklahoman indicate most do feel this is necessary to compete in a global economy.
I am torn on this issue.
I feel if teachers would teach more skills that were relevant in a global economy, more classroom time might be valid. Let’s teach finance, investing, marketing, diplomacy and the laws of importing and exporting. Or how about architecture, engineering and salesmanship. Those are the skills they’ll need in the work world.
I know I’ll get nasty notes from teachers, but I can’t tell you the last time I pulled out a Shakespearean phrase or used a line from my 18th Century poetry class, and I’m a writer! I also could have done without several years of math I never use and history that I can’t remember.
More time in the classroom, though, might prepare children for the reality that grownups have to work everyday for a living without the benefit of spring, summer, fall and holiday breaks.
I feel, however, that children can learn as much outside of the classroom as in it. This summer, my children went to several camps where they learned team-building activities, were encouraged to spend time alone reading and developing their personal relationship with God, wrote and acted in skits, and yes they got to play a lot. As important, they had to learn how to get along with annoying peers while trying not be annoying themselves.
We’ve taken on home-improvement projects. We’ve visited the library frequently for books to keep their minds busy. They’ve kept their bodies active in the pool and on bikes and the trampoline.
They’ve had to come up with creative ideas to keep themselves from getting bored. This is perhaps the best skill of all. They’ve made home movies, written songs, played their instruments, kept journals. They’ve explored the universe thanks to pictures from NASA on the Internet. They’ve watched movies and asked a billion important questions. And they’ve gotten a glimpse of the world outside of themselves by helping with flood relief in Miami, OK, and going with their youth group to feed the homeless on Saturday mornings.
Not bad, for time spent outside of the classroom.