Readers — This is part of a “rant” from over at BabyCenter. It struck a chord (and not just because it’s partly about piano recitals). As you may know, I am smitten with the work of Peter Gray about how playing (i.e., doing something “just” for fun) is the key to learning. I also loved my visit to the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA, where there are no grades (3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) and no grades (A,B, C,D, F). It seems like it’s a place where all the kids would slack off, but instead they buzz with purpose. They also spend a whole lot of time “just” playing. I have never seen 30 or so kids line up as fast as when the students there spontaneously organized a game of Capture the Flag and needed to count off by 2’s to make the teams. Not a teacher, playground supervisor or paraprofessional in sight. With that in mind, here’s a post by someone who calls her self “GorillaMama27”:
I’m so frustrated with the intensity of kid activities.
My 7 year old just wants to play piano. [Her] piano teacher (who is really a very good teacher) has them playing in some sort of recital or competition at least every month. The biggest is coming up next week. The kids have to know 9 songs by memory, all of the major and minor scales and a standard chord progression for each key. They get a score card back and I just assumed this was for encouragement ad generic feedback. At her last lesson, the piano teacher is telling Bug that how she does when she’s 7 will impact whether she qualifies for a college scholarship.
Why can’t kids do things to challenge themselves and have fun? I talked Bug out of taking dance lessons because I couldn’t find a studio that didn’t think of themselves as training the next generation of prima ballerinas. There’s this insane (and totally inaccurate) belief in children’s sports that anyone can be an elite athlete with proper training so let’s get them in training at 3 or 4 years old.
I worry even more for Buddy. Bug is old enough that sports are no longer co-ed for the most part and girls sports are less intense. With boys sports, if you’re still a beginner at age 8, you’re hopelessly behind.
Read the rest here. And here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:
JoetteB: Not that there is a teacher involved, but I’m having similar issues with my DS12 and writing. When he was younger — I mean, 6 years ago, maybe? — he started writing fiction for fun. To start with, it was something that we did together, each of us writing a sentence. Then he continued on himself, writing numerous serialized stories. None of them were very good, but at 6, 7, and 8, that’s really not the point. He announced that he wanted to be an author.
Based on his stated desire to be an author and the need for lots of practice at writing if that’s what he wants to do, last year, we added daily writing to his home school curriculum. At that point, the joy flat out went out of writing for him. Getting any story out of him was like pulling teeth. He didn’t know what he wanted to write about, didn’t have any ideas, and didn’t have any interest any more in writing fiction. We finished out the school year with daily fiction writing, but this year took that back out of his curriculum.