Remarks to Parents at Upper School Curriculum Night:

Good Evening and Welcome to Curriculum Night for the Upper School.

Education is a balancing act, and I think it is helpful  when thinking through our educational goals, principles, and values  to identify where the key tensions lie in that balancing act, and then consciously work to reconcile them as best as we can.

One of these critical tensions is student workload, and particularly homework:  How much is enough; how much is too much?

Last spring, we screened the popular documentary, Race to Nowhere.   That film has many messages, and they are not entirely consistent with each other.  At times, the film seems to say bluntly that there is far too much homework being assigned to students, and that this creates a huge pressure on our kids that is destructive to their social and emotional well being and unnecessary to their preparation.

At other times in the film, the message seemed rather that we should ask students to work hard, but take greater care that what we ask them to do is meaningful, rich in thoughtfulness and creativity, more relevant to real-world applications and allowing for more choice and more student-driven initiative.

For myself as an educator,  I much prefer the second message, and I think we at St. Gregory do a good job at fulfilling this second idea, that work should be meaningful, engaging, rich, inquisitive, and creative rather than exclusively rote, monotonous, and replete of memorization and regurgitation.   But that I think we do a good job doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to do a better job. (more…)