August 18, 2008 in Features

Why kids hate school


In their upcoming book, “I Hate School: Why American Kids are Turned Off Learning,” authors Ben Agger and Beth Anne Shelton contend that by the time students reach junior high or high school, they hate school.

“Our schools are failing because they are warehouses and work houses,” Shelton, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said in a press release.

As a result, students “are anti-intellectual,” said Agger, also a sociology professor at the University of Texas. “Instead of reading, they are passive consumers of electronic entertainment.”

So the authors explored alternative arrangements and styles of education. They also analyzed curriculum, grading, discipline, classroom teaching, the roles of play and exercise and even school food.

Here’s what would happen in their ideal school:

•Grading, testing and homework would be minimized.

•“Teachers would not be cops or dictators.”

•Schools would have fewer desks and more open space.

•Each day would start out with an hour of exercise.

•Standardized tests would be replaced with portfolios of best work and art.

•There would be more art and less math, and math would be taught philosophically.

•Formulaic writing would be replaced by essaying and journaling.

While some of their suggestions appeal to me, I’m not sure if I agree with their conclusion about students and schools. For every kid who dreads getting up in the morning, I bet I could find one who can’t wait to go to school. I also know plenty of teachers who make an effort to make school challenging and relevant to their students.

How about you? Does your kid hate school?

You can post your thoughts on the Parents Council blog at blogs/parents.

– Virginia de Leon

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