As public education moves away from facts and towards the nebulous world of 21st Century skills, more students than ever believe that our classrooms are supposed to be zones of fun. This teacher doesn't believe in the idea of a fun classroom; instead, I believe what Amy Chua, author of the widely debated, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
, believes about parenting, "What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences" (from WSJ excerpt
). The growing trend towards student centered learning, and allowing our students to determine what they study, how they study, is clearly hurting our level of academic accomplishment.
I'd also suggest that as we have given children much more in the way of respect, we have reduced the level of respect that our teachers deserve. I know that I feel a great sense of debt to many of the teachers who helped to shape my mind and offered me the skills to navigate my life successfully. About parents, Chua writes, "the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud. " What if our students felt that same sense of respect towards our role in their life?
But this can't happen so long as society continues to strip authority from adults and give it to children. Part of why great charter schools succeed is because they recognize that children lack structure, lack expecations, and lack accountability.
I'm in favor or Chua's ideas of expecations and accountability.